January is flying by, so I’m taking a second to pause and check on how I’m doing with my New Year’s resolutions. I’m an overambitious person, but self-aware enough to realize that I don’t always nail the follow-through, so my approach to resolutions is to make a whole bunch of goals and then hope that statistically by the end of the year I’ll have achieved one or two. Shoot for the moon, right? At this point I’ve put work toward exactly one of my (Ten? Twenty?) resolutions so far, so I’d give myself a score of ‘better than usual’.
Last week I had the opportunity to be a part of the setup and distribution for the Tommy Toy Fund at the Food Center in New London. The things that I saw and experienced during those two days were both heartwarming and heartbreaking, and they’ve stayed with me, replaying in my head as I’ve gone about my day, washing dishes or having a conversation with someone.
To say Christmas is a big deal in my family would be an understatement. The Christmas carols start playing as soon as Thanksgiving is over, every room in the house is decorated with garlands and lights, advent candles are lit, and celebrating with extended family lasts several days. Tree-decorating and cookie-making are mandatory family traditions. As a kid, everything Christmas-related felt like absolute magic.
Black Friday tends to arouse strong feelings in a lot of people, both positive and negative. While many are excited to take advantage of deals and get their holiday shopping done, others feel that this kickoff to the holiday season is a shallow and dangerous tradition. Reports over the last few years have detailed the physical injury that retail employees and other shoppers have sustained at the hands of particularly fervent Black Friday shoppers, the details of which have only fueled this debate further.
Thanksgiving is next week, and I’m looking forward to running the Manchester Road Race and then coming home to stuffing, pie, and my aunt’s sweet potatoes with brown sugar and pecans. But for many families who struggle to put food on the table, Thanksgiving isn’t so simple. In fact, it can be downright stressful. Social service agencies and initiatives like our Mobile Food Pantry are there for people who can’t consistently afford healthy food, but some feel a stigma or sense of shame associated with seeking help.
This Friday is Veterans Day, and if you don’t have close friends or immediate family who have served in the military, it may seem like just another day. I know that as a young child, I couldn’t have cared less about any holiday that wasn’t Christmas or Halloween. But as I’ve gotten older and begun to understand the sacrifices that my extended family members have made while serving, this holiday has taken on new meaning. And the more I understand, the more it upsets me that so many of our veterans end up struggling financially, mentally, and socially, upon returning home.
Struggling to avoid the temptations of leftover Halloween candy? (I know there’s a handful of Reese’s cups still living in my purse). Luckily November, falling right between Halloween and the holidays, is good nutrition month.
October has a lot of things going on (Halloween! Breast Cancer Awareness! People already selling Christmas stuff!) but it also happens to be National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. Bullying is something that affects millions of kids across the U.S., and I’d bet that everyone reading this has some kind of bullying-related story. For me it was harassment from boys on my baseball team and comments from girls who decided I wasn’t cool enough. For my brother, it was a girl on the bus who tormented him for months before the school finally stepped in.
Today, over 2 million people will congregate in classrooms, libraries, community centers, homes across the U.S. as part of Jumpstart’s 11th annual Read for the Record. Volunteers will read to kids from this year’s book, “Quackers,” an adorable story about a kitten who grows up believing he’s a duck.
If you’re familiar with UWSECT, you’ll notice that much of our work focuses on ALICE- Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed- families. After hearing this acronym and seeing on our publications, I decided to do a little digging into what that really means. Luckily, a brief overview is already provided on our website, which gives some useful statistics.