One child every day…

My nextdoor neighbors have done the most amazingly whimsical decorating for Christmas. Over 20 “blowups,” lots of lighted figures, lights on trees and on the house -it’s beyond “too much.” It’s absolutely magical! Definitely got my Christmas psyche moving. But I am sidelined by thoughts of the local poverty. Sorry. This isn’t going to be an uplifting blog because my thoughts just keep going back to things I’ve been reading and hearing. Jason Brudereck’s series of articles in the Reading paper that compared the poverty in Reading with that of Flint, Michigan – well written and very thought-provoking. Recently I read a statistic that I’ve read before – 1 in 4 children in this country go to bed hungry every night!!!! That’s beyond my comprehension. One of my grad students who is also an assistant football coach at Reading High School tells me that after football practice they give the players supper – because many of them won’t get supper when they get home. Some of the players are young fathers and have to babysit their young children after school. Unless they can get babysitters, they bring the children along to practice – and supper is also given to the players’ children. “We know we’re saving these kids, but we never know whether or not they’ll make it through another week at school, or if their lives will become so complicated that they’ll be out on the streets,” said my student.
In one of Jason Brudereck’s columns he mentioned that people in Flint didn’t think that the arts, colleges, and upscale restaurants that came into the city were helping the poor very much. That also got me to thinking. I love the Reading Symphony concerts we subscribe to. I love eating at Judy’s on Cherry, at the Peanut Bar, at Dan’s. I love going to the Goggle Works and seeing a film in the wonderful little theater, or visiting the artists’ studios. I love going to the Miller Center for all sorts of great performances – there’s a jazz concert this Sunday I’m definitely looking forward to. But within half a block of all those places are hungry children, people who can’t afford to enjoy the performances or food I come to the city to enjoy, and I’m not sure what my patronage of the restuarants and the arts is doing for those children. We suburbanites come into the city for great food and entertainment – then we leave. (Some suburbanites have told me the never come into the city because it’s too dangerous! I’m never very polite in responding to those remarks.) The gentrification has made some sections of Reading truly lovely, but it’s also driven the poor from those areas without improving their lives.
I’m feeling a serious need to think of some ways to help the poor – especially the children – in Reading. It’s an overwhelming problem, and one person … can I make a difference? When Mother Teresa was asked how she thoughy she could help the poor in India because there were so many, many more than she could ever help, she said, “I help one at a time.” I guess that’s what I need to think about. One at a time. A way to help to feed one child….I invite each of my wonderful women who blog to help me find a way to make a difference. And to forgive me for not spreading the Joy of Christmas in this blog, as was my original intent when I started to dig out the decorations on Sunday.
One child at a time! One child every day until Christmas – and one child every day thereafter -I’m going to try to find a way to do that. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated – and I’ll keep you posted about my success.


  1. Jane
    Jane says:

    Martha, my dear…The silence from this particular camp is not one emanating from lack of interest or concern. It is the sound of pondering that you hear – on this end, it quite loud. We as a civilization seem to have forgotten how to treat our own selves well; it’s not surprising that we can’t take care of others.

    But I will keep thinking. As they say: One idea can change the world!

    Love, Jane

    • Martha K. Richardson
      Martha K. Richardson says:

      Thanks, Jane! After I wrote that, I wondered if it was appropriate. But it’s just been nagging at me. Hungry, needy children in this country! Wow! So, thanks so much for reassuring me that I haven’t quite gone off the deep end.
      Love you!

      • Ellen
        Ellen says:

        Yes, Martha, you are digging into what this country and its people should be contemplating at this time of year–at any time of year. We can research what it costs to feed and clothe a child, but does that guarantee a healthy, happy life, free of poverty and hunger? Don’t we also want to save the adults who are their care-givers and who must establish the stable environment that can foster a productive life? There are many who make this their lives’ work.
        Perhaps what we can do on “That’s What She Said” is feature some of the succesful programs in Reading, like that in which your student is involved, and spread awareness of the inequalities in our society and how people try to combat it.
        At least the people who do go into Reading are putting money into the city’s coffers and supporting its programs. That’s a beginning.

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