Charity is silent. This is a phrase that was often used by my father, who would be 99 years old were he still alive. I fondly remember secretive, nighttime visits to elderly church members who we called ‘shut-ins’. He would quietly tap on their front door and walk away, leaving behind a box of groceries. I remember riding along with him in his pick-up truck, when he would leave baskets of garden produce that he had raised, or buckets filled with fresh fish that he had caught. Daddy knew people all over our small town and he did his best to make sure that anybody who needed food … had food. My daddy grew up during the Great Depression, and like so many of the folks still living in our Integrity Healthcare Communities, he knew what it meant to go without food. As an adult, he practiced charitable giving in the most gracious way … quietly. He never talked about it. He just did it.
As we enter this season of giving, it is so important for all of us to take care of our neighbors, especially neighbors who are elderly or are disadvantaged in other ways. Anything we can give is helpful, and our giving should be done in that quiet but generous way! Take time to get to know your neighbors and your co-workers. Sometimes we work right beside someone who has a need and we never know it.
Most communities benefit from food pantries, delivered meals programs, senior centers and churches where daily meals are served. Some of these programs are tax dollar supported and others depend on generous donations from the public. We certainly need to do our parts in providing that kind of assistance, but don’t forget that elderly person or young family who might be too proud (or too embarrassed) to access those programs. Those are the folks who need our personal attention.
We all love to deliver a plate of homemade cookies, but to really support people in need, plan to give additional items. It’s smart to give non-perishable food products and things that might fill a pantry shelf for later use. Always consider the fact that elderly people often have trouble using can openers, so look for pop-top cans of vegetables and fruits. Look for healthy canned products that are low-sodium. Give single serving sizes that are so readily available now and skip the cans all together. Soups, stews and beans are great to add to the gift box. Pouches (instead of cans) of tuna, salmon or chicken are healthy additions. Complete meals in a box are handy. No-sugar pudding cups that don’t require refrigeration are a nice treat.
Food products are just the beginning of what families and elderly friends need. Things that many of us take for granted as just a part of everyday living are very expensive for the disadvantaged. Include kitchen essentials like foil, sandwich bags, paper towels, dish detergent or laundry detergent. Include personal hygiene products such as shampoo, bath soap, toilet paper, tissues and tooth paste.
The employees in our Integrity Healthcare Communities are busy with their food drives and holiday charitable projects right now. We encourage all our followers and readers to do the same thing. Gather your friends and identify those families in your community that need help and then quietly provide that help. Include your children and grandchildren in these projects. Teach them the importance of giving. Teach them that there is a certain ‘gift in the giving’ and that is a gift to ourselves … the knowledge that we have quietly helped those in need. Charity is silent.
Debbie Moore, Regional Director of Business Development