Our own ‘invisible children’

by Sandy Blakely, for the Del Norte Triplicate 

There’s a lot of buzz in the world about the firm, “Kony 2012” and the “invisible children” of Africa who are being kidnapped, brutalized and murdered by Joseph Kony and his army of terrorists.

While I would in no manner minimize those atrocities and the plight of the African nations being held in the thrall of Joseph Kony, I can’t help but think of the our own “invisible children” here in Del Norte County.

We don’t have a terrorist warlord brutalizing our children, but there is a segment of our population that suffers under the rule of a heartless despot and his name is “hunger.”

Hunger preys upon those that are least able to help themselves, our children. Most of us go to bed at night with a full belly and never see those whom hunger has oppressed. By and large we are a caring and sharing community that I am proud to be a citizen of, but there are those that wish that people in need would just go away.

The bad news is they are not going to just go away, the good news is that there are organizations in our community that are trying very hard to wage war on hunger, and make no mistake it is a war. Funding sources for many organizations have been adversely affected by a less than vigorous economy, which has also hit the pocketbooks of their local donors.

 Unemployment and a sluggish economy have only strengthened the hold that hunger has on the children of our community. Hunger’s reach extends through a wide swath of our community, not respecting social position or neighborhood. Its influence once was limited to those who lived “on the other side of the tracks,” but that has changed, to be sure.

I would be reticent if I didn’t mention some of the organizations that are on the front lines in this war. The food banks at Rural Human Services (RHS) and Community Assistance Network (CAN) are out there doing their best, but could use all the help they can get. Redwoods Family Church and Reach Out Ministries do outreach type events each year and provide food for those attending. Our Daily Bread provides ministry and meals regularly at its facility on Harrold Street, too.

Hunger also has an accomplice to assist the attack on the well being of our children: food insecurity, the forerunner of hunger. Symptoms of food insecurity’s presence are pantries, refrigerators, and cupboards that are bare, or at best thinly stocked. When food insecurity is present in a home, hunger isn’t far behind.

Many can point fingers at this reason or that reason why hunger and food insecurity can run rampant through our community. Blame can be fixed on parents who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, which is indeed true in some cases, but it’s not the major reason and in the final analysis it’s still our children who suffer.

I purposefully haven’t included any statistics in this article, however if you’d like some statistics please give RHS and/or CAN a call and they would be more than happy to supply you with all the sobering statistics you could ever want. Better yet, find an organization that you believe in and get behind it through donations and volunteer service, neither of which will be refused.

Remember, every little bit helps. Your couple of cans of green beans or your $5 coupled with like donations of others just might make the difference in whether a child goes to bed hungry tonight. Think about it!

Sandy Blakely is a Crescent City resident.