Doing Good Together March 2006 Newsletter

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Doing Good Together Newsletter )
Helping strengthen kids and communities through family volunteerism... March 2006
in this issue
  • Help Break the Cycle of Poverty
  • Find out the facts about Poverty in America
  • Figures for Children Living in Poverty
  • One Family's Story
  • News From DGT
  • For the past 12 years, our family has sponsored a rural Mississippi family living in poverty. Each month, we send the family a box filled with whatever they tell us they need – food, clothing, school supplies, household goods. We exchange letters and photos, and though we’ve never met, we’ve gotten to know one another. I hope the items and friendship we’ve provided have improved their lives, but I know the relationship has improved ours. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor family, read on in this edition of our newsletter. And if you do decide to take on this project, please let us know!

    Jenny Friedman, Executive Director

    Help Break the Cycle of Poverty
    Box Project Sponsor Meets Her Sister Family

    Make a Difference... The Box Project, a Florida-based nonprofit, encourages families and individuals living in rural poverty in America to become self-sufficient and overcome the cycle of poverty by offering them friendship, education, and material aid. As a sponsor, your family writes to your match family, gets to know them better, learns from them, mentors them, and provides friendship. About once a month, you send a box of food, clothing, supplies or other material aid. On average, sponsors allow about $50 per month for their match family. Some are able to do more, some less. Just let The Box Project know how large a family you can assist, and you will be matched accordingly.

    Photo: Box Project Sponsor Meets Her Sister Family

    Find out the facts about Poverty in America

    Talk About It ...As children get older, they gain an increasingly sophisticated understanding of social issues such as poverty. While even preschoolers can grasp that some people don’t have enough money to buy the food and housing they need, teens can begin thinking critically about effective solutions.

    • Find opportunities to discuss the topic of poverty – perhaps when you see someone on the street asking for a handout, when you pass your local homeless shelter or when you’re dropping off a donation at the neighborhood food pantry
    • Question stereotypes and myths about people who are poor. Educate yourself and your children. For example, did you know that 37% of people living in poverty are children, and that 64% of the adults in poverty work full-time? To learn more, take the Poverty Quiz with your kids at the Catholic Campaign for Human Development website.
    • When we feel empathy for another’s suffering, it’s empowering to do something about it. Talk to your children about what your family can do to make a difference for people who are struggling with poverty.
    Learn About It ...For adult and children’s books related to poverty, hunger and homelessness, visit our Resource page. To find other suggestions for books that inspire compassion and community responsibility, visit our resource list.

    Figures for Children Living in Poverty

    The federal poverty level for a family of four in 2006 is $20,000. More than one-third of children in the United States live in low-income families, meaning their parents earn no more than twice that amount.

    National Center for Children in Poverty

    One Family's Story
    The Steefel-Moore family helping at Sharing and Caring Hands

    One Sunday morning a month, Sarah Steefel and her husband, Jim Moore, arrive at Sharing and Caring Hands, a downtown Minneapolis facility for people in poverty, with children Laura and Dave, now 17 and 15, respectively. They immediately get to work preparing the day’s lunch menu—which on this day includes chili dogs, corn, fruit, milk and cookies. For 45 minutes, the family, along with four other families, cook, chop, mix and pour as they prepare for the over 200 guests (men, women and a few children) that will arrive by 11:15 am.

    The Steefel-Moore family has been helping cook and serve for almost a year. There is no hint that the teens (or their parents) find the commitment burdensome. In fact, Laura believes that the benefits are enormous – and a little unexpected. She was surprised by both the diversity and the kindness of the guests, and found her interaction with them to be both personal and rewarding. “It makes me wonder about their lives, where they’ll sleep and what their stories are,” says Laura. She adds that despite their difficult circumstances, nearly all of the guests are upbeat and courteous, and they often express gratitude for both the food and the volunteers as they go through the cafeteria-style line.

    Laura admits that many kids her age are much too self-focused, and she thinks spending some time volunteering can gives teens a new perspective. “When I see what other people struggle with, it makes me more grateful for what I have – a home, plenty of food and a stable family,” says Laura. Her father, Jim Moore, sees benefits as well. “Our family puts aside our differences and really comes together around this,” he says. “We all feel we’re doing a good thing.”

    Photo: The Steefel-Moore family helping at Sharing and Caring Hands.

    News From DGT

    We’ve been in the news! Lately we were featured in Los Angeles Family, About Families, Money magazine, and the Tri-City Herald in Kennewick, Washington. In addition, our Executive Director Jenny Friedman has an article on the well-known volunteer website, Idealist. For a look at these and other articles about family volunteering, visit our web site.

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