Toledoans are attuned during the holiday season to the need to volunteer to serve meals, donate toys and clothes, fill food baskets, and contribute to churches and other charities. They open their hearts — and pocketbooks — in the spirit of giving. But with the new year, giving often slows down, even as the need remains.
Some folks act individually, such as deer hunters who donate to Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry. Others contribute as families, such as the Cases of Sylvania Township, who decided six years ago to prepare and serve meals to homeless Toledoans. Many people donate their time and money through their place of worship or a social-service organization such as United Way.
Often, their efforts extend beyond their human neighbors. Meals on Wheels and other groups join forces at this time of year to provide food for elderly people’s pets. This helps seniors with limited resources keep pets that research shows are beneficial to their well-being.
But now that the holidays are over, the danger is that many people will turn back to their workaday lives. The elderly, the shut-ins, the homeless, the unemployed, and other people who need a hand don’t go away. Neither do the soup kitchens, food banks, charities, and social-service agencies that are here to help.
Unemployment remains stubbornly high in northwest Ohio. The jobless rate rose slightly in many parts of the region in November, to 8 percent in Toledo and 7.4 percent in Lucas County. Foreclosures are up as well; more homes are in some stage of foreclosure in Lucas County in November than there were a year ago.
The overwhelming majority of people who need our help are children and people on fixed incomes. In the best of times, they depend on others for their well-being. From United Way and Cherry Street Missions to Helping Hands and Humane Ohio, dozens of area organizations stand ready to assist.
But they need help too. There are food pantries to be restocked, homeless families to be housed, and people who need warm clothes, a hot meal, help with overwhelming bills, a safe place to escape domestic abuse, aid to overcome addiction, or just a little companionship.
The giving season didn’t stop Jan. 1. It never ends. It depends on you each day.