Fighting poverty, globally and locally, is easier than you might think

Today, Oct. 15, is Blog Action Day, the day that thousands of bloggers, regardless of their genre, unite to discuss a single issue. This year’s issue is POVERTY.

I feel very fortunate that I’ve never experienced poverty. Yes, money was always tight when I was growing up. We never took vacations that didn’t involve staying somewhere for free and bringing our own food (my great-grandma’s cottage), going out to eat was rare, hand-me-downs were a part of life, and my mom grew some of our food in a garden and sewed some of our clothes. But I never went to bed hungry, I never had to cram my feet in shoes that were too small (or go without shoes at all), and I always had a roof over my head and a warm bed to sleep in.

And now, in my adult life, I am just as fortunate. My kids have it better than I did growing up (isn’t that always the goal?), but my husband and I definitely make sacrifices as we live on one salary so that I can be a stay-at-home mom. We try very hard not to live beyond our means, but this has been a learning experience for us over the years. As an aside, we recently paid off our last credit card, so other than one Jody uses for business trips (which we are reimbursed for), we no longer have any credit card debt to worry about. That is a fantastic feeling!

The sad truth though is that millions of people around the world are not as fortunate as I have been, and I fear that as the U.S. economic crisis continues, more and more people will find themselves living on less and less as they struggle to make ends meet.

The good news is that there are some simple ways each of us can help make a difference.

I’ve found a few ways to easily help fight poverty ONLINE. The first two are the simplest, which require nothing more than pointing and clicking. The second two require investing some money, but are both pretty amazing.

  1. Visit The Hunger Site every day. One click can help feed others.
  2. Play the Free Rice game – boost your vocabulary while feeding hungry people.
  3. Kiva – Kiva’s mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty. Kiva is the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world.
  4. MicroPlace – MicroPlace’s mission is to help alleviate global poverty by enabling everyday people to make investments in the world’s working poor. MicroPlace is currently the only website that provides everyday investors with the ability to make investments in the microfinance industry. Through MicroPlace, an investor can make investments that earn financial returns while having a positive social impact.

If we are really going to make an impact on poverty though, we need to focus our efforts locally as well as globally. Here are a few suggestions on how you can make a difference in your own COMMUNITY.

  1. Go through your closets and drawers and donate anything you no longer wear or haven’t worn in the past year. Have your kids help with this too by going through their own clothes and shoes to find those that no longer fit.
  2. In the same spirit and keeping your children involved, ask them to select a few toys to donate to those less fortunate. Let your kids deliver them to the charity of your choice.
  3. Eat meatless dinners for one week every month (or one day every week) and donate all of the money you saved on meat to a local homeless or battered women’s shelter.
  4. Skip your Starbucks coffee once a week and donate the money.
  5. Donate your time to help serve lunches in a local soup kitchen.
  6. If you have a skill to offer, check with your local charity to see if they can put it to good use. Chances are they will welcome the offer.
  7. The Salvation Army’s Annual Bell-Ringing Campaign is coming up and volunteers are always needed. This could be a fun and worthwhile project to do as a family.

I hope you’ll consider doing one or more of the ideas above and that you’ll stop by Blog Action Day to read some of the other posts today. If you’ve participated in Blog Action Day on your own blog, please leave a link to your post in the comments and I will compile a list here, adding to it throughout the day as time allows. Thank you!

Other Blog Action Day participants:
– The Buy Nothing Project: Fighting Poverty the Self-Sufficient Way
– Ima On (and Off) the Bima: The King and the Shack
– 123Pizza: Poverty and the Girl Effect
– Chasing Domestic Bliss: Poverty and Homelessness
– Crazy Adventures in Parenting: Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty