The holiday season every year is marked by admonitions to be generous to those less fortunate.
We just came out of Thanksgiving, and we’re headed to the Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
The combination of those holidays and the thought in past decades that there are families that don’t have the monetary ability to celebrate those holidays according to American tradition (extravagant meals, gift-giving – particularly to children, flamboyant decorations in and out of the home) motivated a segment of American society to be more generous this time of year.
There are a number of charitable initiatives that are native to this time of year – Salvation Army bell ringers, churches doing Operation Christmas Child (shoe boxes full of small gifts sent to children overseas), Angel Christmas trees, etc.
The Tuesday after Thanksgiving has even been given the name “Giving Tuesday” to keep our attention on those less fortunate after we spent all day shopping on Black Friday, supported local businesses on Small Business Saturday and did a lot of shopping online on Cyber Monday.
But one good thing about living in Jackson and Madison County is knowing that generosity isn’t something that happens one month a year for a lot of the people here.
Helping those who need help is something that happens the other 11 months too.
A lot of that help is facilitated through churches, civic organizations and non-profits, but all of these places give the rest of the local population a simple place to donate time, money or other resources to help those in need.
Regional Inter-Faith Association (RIFA) frequently has volunteers helping put together snack backpacks for children who might not get a quality meal on the weekends when they’re not in school. They also get regular help in their soup kitchen as well.
Area Relief Ministries has Room in the Inn available for homeless men on a regular basis, more often in the winter for logical reasons, and First United Methodist Church leads the charge in helping them since the pandemic began in 2020, but other churches are in that charge as well.
Tyson Foods in nearby Humboldt has food giveaways every few weeks in various places in the area surrounding their factory, and stops in Jackson are part of their rotation.
Helping Hands of Tennessee helps ensure people who can’t afford dental care have access to dental care in their offices on North Highland Avenue and have begun offering other medical services over the past few months.
The three Rotary Clubs of Jackson work together every year to make sure hundreds of students in Jackson-Madison County Schools get a new pair of shoes when some of the children’s parents don’t have the money to get their child a new pair as they’re growing up and outgrow their shoes every few months.
Scarlet Rope, CASA, Dream Center, WRAP, Tennessee Homeless Solutions, Women of Hope, Youth Town and the Carl Perkins Exchange Club for the Prevention of Child Abuse all do work helping those in desperate situations that for one reason or another can’t help themselves.
And all that is just a small part of the charitable efforts being made all year in Jackson and Madison County.
So when you’re leaving that department store during the month of December and you see that representative of Salvation Army ringing the bell with the red kettle, the cash you drop in there goes to feed people who need food here in Jackson and the surrounding areas.
(By the way, if you stop and look at the signage above the kettle, you’ll see different ways you can donate digitally if you’re like me and haven’t had cash on you since you got married.)
But if you’re able, don’t save that generosity all year for the final month. People need help all year. Fortunately help is available January through November too.
Brandon Shields is the managing editor of The Jackson Post. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JSEditorBrandon or on Instagram @editorbrandon.