January is awesome! Why is January awesome?! Because January is Poverty in America Awareness Month. While poverty has plagued our society for decades, attention should be given to the poverty rate increase from 13.2% in 2008 to 14.3% in 2009-the biggest statistical increase since 2004. Similarly, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, between 2000 and 2008, the number of poor Americans grew by more than nine million. Now that you have been inspired to fight poverty in America, we have ten ways to fight poverty in your community and throughout America:
- Support a local or family-owned business. Small businesses keep communities together, while also pumping money back into the community and ultimately fighting poverty. These small businesses also often have interesting or unique items, which is always a bonus.
- Plan a vacation around a learning or helping experience. Vacations are always fun; however, consider the communities around your vacation destination and the potential poverty within those neighborhoods. Take a few hours out of your day while you’re on vacation and volunteer.
- Donate to your local food bank. Hunger is a year-round issue, and forces people to choose between food and other expenses.
- Shop for good. Choose stores or services that support local groups. Buy local, it can be better for your health and wallet.
- Organize a food drive in your community. A food drive will provide a family food, while also bringing your community together and hopefully motivate other community to do more to fight poverty.
- Do a fundraiser! Plan a walk-a-thon, yard sale, lemonade stand, or benefit concert to raise money for a local organization. Why not have fun with your fundraiser while supporting a good cause?! These activities will surely be exciting and worthwhile!
- Research! Become aware of local policies and programs that affect low-income families. Find out where poverty is focused in your city, how widespread the poverty stricken areas are, and how you can help.
- Share your research! Voice your concern and tell your community members that it’s Poverty in America Awareness Month so that they are also inspired to improve the community or will spread the word about this awesome month.
- Always show respect to people working at minimum wage. Be courteous and respectful of their efforts or just greet them with a simple smile. You never know how much a smile can improve their day.
- Use public transportation whenever possible. Your support helps to insure that public transportation remains available for us all.
We hope these tips have inspired you to support Poverty in America Awareness Month! Tell us what other community service activities you plan on doing to commemorate Poverty in America Awareness Month.