It Really Does Take a Village

The partial government shutdown for 16 days caused some Americans to lose hope in our democratic way of life. If our elected officials can’t get along, what does that say about how the normal citizen can get along with their neighbors? If we can’t take care of ourselves and the basic functions of daily living, how can we even expect [to] take care of others? […]

Even though Congress postponed the inevitable with the recent passage of the funding of the government and raising the debt ceiling, both issues were just kicking the can down the road until Jan. 15, 2014, for the budget and Feb. 7, 2014, for the debt ceiling. Through all of this, the country forgot about the sequestration that started on March 1, 2013.

As reported in The Washington Post, the impact of this sequester has become very harsh to those in our society in the most need. […] Head Start,[for instance], [plans to cut] 177,000 children from their program, which [was designed to help] young children from low-income families. […] President Johnson [launched Head Start in 1965] as part of his “War on Poverty” [campaign]. In addition to the suffering we are inflicting on Head Start, 1.3 million fewer students will receive Title I education assistance, which distributes funding to schools with a high percentage of students from low-income families. On top of all of this, […] there will be 9,000 fewer special-education staff [members] in our classrooms and $291 million less [in] childcare subsidies for working families.

This […] sequestration not only affects kids, it is affecting other parts of our society. [Approximately] 760,000 […] households will receive less heating and cooling assistance under the Low-income Home Energy Assistance Program. [Additionally], $2 billion less is being sent to the National Institutes of Health, which corresponds with 1,300 fewer research grants. [I]t goes on and on. […]

We are approaching another holiday season, [and while it doesn’t feel very] festive after living through these 16 days of dysfunction, […] the spirit of America seems to be alive even though our leaders can’t get along. The boots-on-the-ground Americans are rising above the fray in Washington, D.C., to help those who need help:

  • WGGB in Springfield, Mass., reports the “Coats for Kids” campaign has begun to collect gently used coats to help families in need. The Salvation Army has been doing this campaign to help those who need it most for 33 years.
  • WKRC in Cincinnati reports how local law enforcement officers are getting child seats into the hands of those who cannot afford them so all children will be safer on the roads. […]
  • The Coshocton Tribune reports about the “Rags to Riches” clothing drive, where Ridgewood Elementary has taken the lead in helping to collect clothes for the underprivileged children in their town in Ohio.

Helping others who are struggling is a core American value that […] has to get stronger. […] Volunteering is great, but we are at a point that people will not survive unless all of us step in to help financially. We have all seen image[s] of the Great Depression in the 1930s, where America looked like a third-world country, and none of us have the desire to see that again in 2014. Most communities have The Salvation Army and The United Way. […] Nationally, the Children’s Defense Fund and Kids in Distressed Situations help get the funds where they are most needed. […]

NBC reported that [in] Marion, Iowa, [many women] have stepped in to help low-income mothers who depend on WIC, the federally funded nutrition program for women, infants and children. They are handing out baby food, formula and cereal to those who used to rely on the government to help them. This scene needs to repeat itself in every city and town across America. We have to take care of each other now, because […] we can’t [always] count on our government to take care of those most in need.

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