It’s been a particularly subdued pre-holiday season this year, never mind how many reports we have heard about how great the economy is doing. This year shoppers didn’t have to fight traffic, scurry for parking places or compete for a spot in the check out aisles. And, if my own shopping list is any indicator, shoppers focused much more purchasing basic necessities for gift giving this year. Many are not as fortunate:
The Coalition for the Homeless in March 2007 reported that the number of homeless New Yorkers in shelters increased by 11.1% (to 35,113), the number of homeless families in New York City shelters increased by 17.6% (to 9,190) and the number of homeless children increased by 18.1% (14,219) — the number of families in shelters hit an all-time record high in February. with an average of 9,287 families (a 4% increase of families entering the system.
More recently, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless reported, "More than half of the homeless youths who sought help in Illinois had to be turned away due to insufficient resources…The CCH study done with input from 24 youth providers across Illinois found that 2,895 youths (48.7%) were served in fiscal year 2007. But another 3,088 had to be turned away – 51.6% of the youths who sought assistance."
Disheartening, yes. But then once we get past the chaotic busy-ness and glitter that has exemplified recent Christmases, perhaps it’s easier to recall the reason for the season… Recall: right in the middle of the turmoil of a military state a Child was born into abject poverty in a stable…and, while many slept, the heavens rejoiced because hope was born that night.
My wishes for each and every one…
May this holiday rekindle the spirit of hope and wonder at the value of human life that was born in Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago. And, may we all enjoy renewed hope for peace, joy and prosperity throughout 2008.