Monday, June 16, 2008

The Children of Summer

My clearest recollections of childhood live forever in summer. The smell of cut grass, sunlight streaming through the woods, cold creek waters, lying in dandelion fields, watching the clouds tumble slowly through the sky. Summers (through the glass of memory) were heaven, and all my friends were there. We played baseball and kickball during the day, and chased fireflies through magical blue evenings. Our parents were there as well, always watching, sometimes scolding, calling us to chores, to lunch, to dinner, calling us in for the night.

Day after day, I played in those summers past, knowing that I had only to run inside and open the refrigerator to quench my thirst or still my rumbling belly. My parents fed me, clothed me, and kept me well. And, if I did not receive all that I desired, I certainly received everything I needed. Summer was freedom – safe, comfortable freedom.

Today, I read in the local paper about children who look forward to a less-than-perfect summer. As gas and food prices rise, the economic margins within which their families exist are narrowing rapidly. Salaries that supported a family last year, fall short this year, Prices are up, and resources are low. For these children, this summer is not idyllic; it is distressing.

This year, assistance has become an unhappy necessity for far too many. Yet, the very programs created to provide such assistance have also been affected by the sluggish economy. At no time is this more evident than in the summer. It seems that charitable giving evaporates as the weather warms. The emotional tug of Thanksgiving and Christmas has diminished, along with the alarming reports of freezing families. Donations fall precipitously.

So, just as greater numbers seek help through social programs and charities, they find that the cupboards are bare. And now, the school year is ending, and the free lunch programs with it. Families stretching to pull together one or two meals each day must now provide three. The children of summer grow hungry in America. And, their parents watch, and worry.

If you’re in Pennsylvania:

If you’re in the US:

If you’re on the planet:

1 comment:

Lori Skoog said...

You never cease to amaze me with your writing...need to hook up with a big newspaper. You have got it, woman!