With the holidays past, it is time to take stock of another year and reflect on the reason for gathering with family and decking halls with boughs of holly. I always find it vexing that the spirit of charity and goodwill vanishes once the decorations are back in the attic. Once everyone is back to work or school, everything resumes, including the usual incivility and self-centeredness. Why is this?
As a Christian, I always thought that the season of charity and brotherly love should last all year, and I should be kind to everyone. Yet donations of essential items are down 60 percent this year at SHARE, a local homeless shelter, and after Christmas the volunteers are gone. With the economy still hurting families, Eastern Washington University (EWU) has seen a rise in homeless students, who have to choose between buying books or food, and this winter is especially hard on those less fortunate.
The problem of forgetting those less fortunate around us isn’t just a Christian one. It’s a human problem.
Seeing this occur for the past few years, the Compassionate Interfaith Society at EWU has been working with the university and local non-profits to create a food pantry and volunteer center to provide necessary items to students in our community. The project, a few years in the making, will be a year-round permanent program run by students for students, and has already been used by students on campus.
It was truly overwhelming to see the generous support around from many different religious groups for this project. In planning this project, and at our local community homeless shelter, I have worked alongside Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, all making sure those less fortunate than ourselves are fed, clothed, and are given compassion. While we have differences in opinions, we all agree that we should help others whenever we have the chance, and there are many opportunities that go unfulfilled all year round.
We decided that, while we can’t end homelessness overnight, we can make a difference together where we are, with what we have. We are called to help one another and share both in the joy and trials of others.
It’s still cold outside. People are still hungry and need to be loved.
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