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Charities push back poverty


We are in the heart of the giving season.

It’s not only a time to share good things with loved ones, but also a time to dig a little deeper to help out local Christmas charities.

This is happening across the country, everywhere, in large, small and even tiny communities.

You don’t have to be a believer in the reason for the season to get caught up in the goodwill. Whatever the faith, it is a special time of year for helping out other people, many you may never meet, maybe even they’re your next-door neighbour’s kids.

Christmas charities bring to a large number of families who live in poverty some of the joy others more fortunate readily experience. They not only receive gifts, but also hampers full of food.

Sadly, in a country that has so much, the spirit isn’t felt everywhere.

It was a bit disappointing to hear someone say last week that it wasn’t his job to feed his neighbour’s kids.

I get that. Not everyone feels the goodwill, or cares to share — giving, after all, remains a voluntary action.

But it just wasn’t anyone who made the remark.

It was Federal Industry Minister James Moore, talking about child poverty.

The negative reaction was swift, and so ensued the apology.

Moore was called heartless, and the Conservative government he represents was accused of failing poor families.

The Canadian Press said Moore reportedly told a Vancouver radio station that it was not up to the federal government to ensure children had enough to eat.

“Certainly, we want to make sure that kids go to school full-bellied, but is that always the government’s job to be there to serve people their breakfast?” he was quoted as saying.

“Is it my job to feed my neighbour’s child? I don’t think so,” he said.

The apology on Monday from Moore: “All levels of government, indeed all members of our society” need to show compassion for those in need.

“Great work has been done to tackle poverty and the challenges associated with poverty. And while more work is needed, I know the cause of fighting poverty is not helped by comments like those I made last week.

“For that, I am sorry.”

While Canadians may want to extend the season’s goodwill by forgiving Moore for his insensitive, dumb remarks, the incident does highlight child poverty in the country.

Despite Alberta’s wealth, one in 10 children lives in poverty. Nationally the numbers are one in seven children.

The report From Words To Action, Alberta Can Afford a Real Poverty Reduction Strategy, says Alberta has the highest rate of food bank use by those working full-time, full-year in Canada. Food banks are here to stay it would seem.

Here in Red Deer, the now warmer weather has been followed by with warm hearts.

This week 145 families in need are receiving assistance through the Salvation Army’s Adopt-A-Family program. Their kettle campaign is lagging, and still needs about another $100,000 to reach their goal of $200,000. Knowing Central Albertans, there’s good chance that goal will be reached.

The food bank reports well-stocked shelves, the Christmas Bureau has been “bombarded” with donations, and expects to deliver 900 hampers at the end of this week.

It takes a lot of charity from the community to help so many.

Thankfully, every year, the spirit of giving lives on.

Mary-Ann Barr is Advocate assistant city editor. She can be reached by email at barr@reddeeradvocate.com or by phone at 403-314-4332.

 
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