This piece first appeared in the Davis Food Co-op's newsletter The Vine.
I was raised by hippies in rural Northern California, so it may come as no surprise to anyone that I was also raised poor. Not “nothing to eat” or “no shoes on my feet” poor, but “rice and beans every night” and “make those shoes last” poor. Since most of the folks around us were in the same situation, it didn’t seem that strange.
When I went away to college, I was perilously close to nothing-to-eat poor several times, and more than once since then I’ve definitely been stay-up-at-night-worrying poor. Like many people today, I’m still just a few paychecks and a well-placed disaster away from being there again. Those are the times we live in, like it or not.
Here’s the thing, though: I’m certain sure that having been poor gives me an abiding gratitude for the very nice life I do have now. And I’m equally sure that part of the payback for what I have now is looking out for the people who need a hand.
This time, it’s the 2,400 or so kids in the care of the Yolo County Children’s Alliance that could use our help. These kids live at or below poverty level, and their families struggle with dwindling resources. Among other things, that means that these kids are headed into winter without warm coats or good shoes. While that may not seem like a big problem, it’s mighty hard to focus on your school work when you’re cold, or get to school when you don’t have shoes.
So, we’re looking for coats and shoes for infants to middle-school aged kids. Gently used things are fine, but shiny new things would be a great and wonderful kindness. They don’t have to be expensive, but they should be sturdy, and shoes should be closed-toed so they’re good for the winter.
If you can donate coats or shoes, just drop them off at the Co-op anytime in October. There will be a big box at registers 9 & 10, which I’m happy to empty every day if you’ll help fill it up. I don’t know if the 10,000 families that make up our Co-op can clothe 2,400 kids – but if anyone can, it’s probably us.