Friday, October 4, 2013

Quick Takes Friday: How to help when the government is shut down and other random stuff

With the government in the good ole US of A shut down, I have to wonder if the Queen of England is like this:

(Source: a friend on FB. Memes like this are why we are friends!)

(Side note: I love and respect the Queen. I think she's a pretty awesome person. But this was too funny not to share!)

Anyway, the government is shut down and the ramifications are going far beyond a few National Parks. People are home without pay and are unable to look for a new job. People are worried about making their mortgage payments. Those who receive federal funding are unable to get their allotments (think WIC, HeadStart). Even those of us who do not receive federal aid or work for the government are worried and tightening our belt buckles.

How can you help? Here are some ideas:

1. Consider increasing your donation of money or goods to local food pantries. With many families being unable to receive their WIC checks, they are turning to the food banks to help make ends meet. Call and double check with your local food pantry to see if they would rather have money or goods. Sometimes they can buy food for MUCH cheaper than normal, as they get discounts, can go through wholesale and so on.

2. Add formula to your donation. WIC provides formula for babies who are unable to be breastfed. If parents cannot get their WIC checks, they may be unable to buy enough formula for their baby. No baby should go hungry. Again, double check to see if they will accept it and what brands they want. Breastfeeding mamas! This is a GREAT use of those formula coupons and checks you get in the mail! Sample cans  may be able to be donated and, if not, local crisis pregnancy centers usually take them.

3. Offer childcare to parents who normal use programs like HeadStart. If preschool or day care is closed, the parents have to stay home with their child. Since the shut down is indefinite, this can put their job in jeopardy. Don't forget the older kids, who may go to federally funded after school programs. Even watching a child for a half day or just after school can really help out a family.

4. Share a meal. If you know of a family who is struggling, invite them over for dinner. It doesn't have to be "You poor thing! You have no money; here's some charity!" Sharing a meal together has wonderful benefits for everyone, well beyond saving a buck and helping someone. Throw more water in the soup, kick the kids to the backyard to play and pour a cup of coffee for the adults. Even if money is tight, I promise everyone will go home with tired children and up lifted spirits.

5. Share produce from your garden. Sometimes local food pantries will take fresh produce from your garden but call and ask first. If you can't donate to the food pantry, give to your neighbors! Come on, I KNOW you have extra zucchini...

6. Most of these ideas are geared towards families with children but please do not forget your elderly neighbors. Offer rides to the doctor, bring over meals, run to the grocery store for them. Make sure their house is properly heated and cooled too. Often, our older neighbors are the last ones to say that they do not have money for heating or AC. There are private organizations who will help them if they cannot heat or cool their homes, or groups that will pick them up and take them to an AC facility during the summer.

7. Totally random: When we go grocery shopping the kids are allowed to pick out a treat. Normally, George picks out Trader Joe's donut holes made with sour cream and whole wheat flour. (This makes them healthy, right?) Well, yesterday, it was chocolate milk and I now have chocolate milk in my  coffee. Yum!

Head over to Jen's for more Quick Takes. I promise to get back to blogging normaly next week!

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