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Jamie Anne Richardson Headshot

Bare shelves

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Alamy
Alamy

I am not a political person. I am not one that advocates for much of anything other than my immediate family. I am not eating at Chick-Fil-A any more or less based on their recent statements and I have never tried to save a whale, a dog, or a tree. But this unpolitical gal is gonna get political just for a minute, and you are going to have to bare with me. (Or stop reading now.)

There is very little that tans my hide more than selfishness. I hate it when people swoop into the parking spot I have my blinker on for, jump over into an opening checkout line no matter how many people have been waiting or raise their kids with entitlement issues. I just don't get it.

Having been flat broke, living in an apartment with fungus growing from the ceiling, having an AC unit that sounded like a motorcycle, not knowing how or if the next water bill would be paid, and having a neighbor literally doing lines on our front porch... I know what it feels like to be "less fortunate." It has always been my desire to give back to my community, but it has been difficult to find a group that I trust my money, time, and talents with.

But when I found it... I went all in.

It kills me every time I show up at our local food pantry and there are bare shelves. We give out of every paycheck, but our community's need is far greater than the resources going to the pantry. I am not advocating for this specific pantry, but for food pantries in general.

Could you imagine how big of an impact it would make on our communities if we each gave up one latte, fast food meal or golf game a week? What if you packed a sandwich rather than going out to lunch on Friday? But we don't do it because we feel like we have worked hard enough and have "earned" those rewards. What we fail to realize is that our economy is so messed up right now that the people in the lines for food aren't those we labeled "bad." They aren't all criminals, nor are they lazy. They are your grandparents and great grandparents. They are single moms who are trying to make ends meet. They are families that experienced layoffs six months ago and are doing all they can to get back on their feet. Many are well-educated and legitimately seeking employment.

I'm not saying that we owe our neighbors or that we are bad people if we fail to give, I'm just saying that I have been in need before and to believe that I will never again be flat broke is putting myself on a higher pedestal than I should. With the bat of eye next week, my husband could be in the unemployment line.

My personal challenge is for you to find something... anything... that you can give up and give towards a local food pantry. That mocha that you do not even taste as you talk on your cell phone and drive down the road, could provide dinner for a family tonight. You don't have to give up everything, just one little something.

What something are you willing to give up?