Yesterday, October 15, was Blog Action Day,** and bloggers around the world banded together to blog about poverty, with the intent of raising awareness and suggesting solutions about the issue. It’s such an interesting time to blog about poverty, as the global economic growth has slowed to a crawl and many Americans are facing imminent poverty for the first time in their lives. This Huffington Post report quotes some dire figures: The American poverty rate rose under the Bush administration, increasing from 11.3 percent of the population in 2000 to 12.5 percent in 2007. Disturbingly, the sharpest jump has occurred among the country’s youngest children. In 2000, there were about 4.1 million American children under the age of 6 in poverty; now there are more than 5.1 million.

In a time when everyone’s conscious of their spending and trying to tighten their belts, it’s hard to conceive of finding the money to donate to a new cause. “Charity begins at home,” was a mantra my mother said often (not in reference to donating money, in reference to how we behaved at home). But at a time like now, a phrase like that can take on a more literal meaning.

I do my part in small ways. Very small ways — recently I started taking a box of granola bars in my car, so I can give them to the homeless veterans I see every day on my way home from work. Most of them are extremely grateful that someone has even bothered to acknowledge them.

I try to support local mom and pop businesses, and to endorse small businesses in general. I know from my own family’s experience of once owning a store, every last sale counts, especially now when customers are scarce. Purchasing fresh produce from your local farmer’s market supports local farmers, all while improving your diet with homegrown goodness.

I regularly donate clothes to Goodwill, and I also gave to the Red Cross for Caribbean hurricane victims. Being Caribbean myself, and living in South Florida, it is an issue very close to my heart. I try to do little things wherever I can. Driving down certain streets in downtown Miami — far removed from the glitz and glamor of South Beach — where homeless men and women congregate and the pavements are blanketed with sleeping bodies, makes the problem of poverty seem so overwhelming.

There are so many more ways to battle poverty — Blog Action Day came up with an impressive list of resources and charities worthy of further investigation.

Poverty is one of those issues that gets shunted to the side every year. We’re mired in the War on Terror, and America continues to wage a fruitless and insanely expensive War on Drugs, but as far as I know, we’ve never tried to wage a war on poverty. Or hunger. Or homelessness.

I would love to hear your suggestions for this country to effectively deal with poverty. And I’d also like to hear how you fight poverty in your own way, whether it’s by serving food at a soup kitchen or donating money to your charity of choice.

** — I really, really hoped to finish this post by midnight, but I was running on empty. So I figured an hour wouldn’t hurt. Better late than never?

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CoilyFields says:
October 16, 2008, 8:44 am
Hi Bella, This is a subject that is close to my heart. I am a social worker by trade and poverty is an issue that is forever in the forefront. I like to think that I make a difference in the lives of oppressed populations. After getting an insanely expensive college prep education I went on to a top 10 university and graduated pre-law. But somehow I did not feel fulfilled with that career choice and 1 month before leaving for law school I re-evaluated my priorities. Long story short I decided to nix law school and instead do social work. So now I have a master's in social work and this is my passion. I felt led by God to use my top notch education, not to make myself and some firm super-rich, but to give the best that I have to those who need it the most. I also follow this scripture in the Bible that says (paraphrase)'In as much as you have done unto the least of these you've also done unto me'. I try to give to whoever asks it of me and treat them as I want God to treat me. I also pay my tithes at my church faithfully. Through giving we are able to feed the hungry, help people with bills, and provide activities for children and adults. Now, We know how to eliminate poverty in America. BTW we actually have had a war on poverty started I believe by Pres. LBJ. But our capitalistic system needs poverty to survive and so it is not in the powers'-that-be's best interest to eliminate it. Our current programs are like using bandaids to treat a gunshot wound. I have very strong (socialist) opinions on the subject but here are just a few suggestions about what we could do in America: 1. Create and federalize a LIVING wage, not just a minimum wage. The difference being that a living wage is more realistic with the cost of life and increases every year. (makes since right? as life gets more expensive so should your wages increase) 2. Put ratios on CEO and executive incomes. It is rediculous that a CEO can make millions while those working for the company make pennies. There should be some kind of ratio-like a CEO can only make 5 times an hour more than his/her lowest paid worker. 3. All politicians should make minimum wage (including the president). I would love it if somehow they could only live off of what they made during their tenure (meaning can't use your personal income/savings etc.)And they should live in public housing and all that. This way I think they would stay focused and grounded and really experience what to most of them is simply an idea. (I actually had someone at my undergrad ask if poverty still even existed in America-like it was sooooo yesterday). It needs to be made real to them, and it gets no more real than actually living it. 4. Raparations! Some shy away from it but it is no coincidence that in America the poorest people are the ones that have been systematically marginalized since European Americans came to America. Native Americans and African Americans suffer the greatest and should be compensated. Racism, discrimination, segregation, and white privilage exist and continue to thrive in certain forms. (marginilization=no power=low-paying jobs=poverty=crime/prison=poor health=teen pregnancy= low quality housing=I could go on and on about what comes when people are not given a fair chance and it becomes a cycle). I don't think money will do it but since it is a proven fact that education is the number one way out of poverty then the government should give free undergraduate education to all blacks and Native americans for like the next few generations. OK let me stop here because I could literally go on and on. But these are a few of the things that I am passionate about and that would mean real change for the better.
Ladene says:
October 16, 2008, 11:12 am
there are so many things you can do to help others. donate all clothes that dont fit, instead of trashing them. make sack lunches for the homeless. very inexpensive. and inside the baggies you can put little cards with info on them for local shelters, food programs, and homeless work programs. play a game, workout your brain, help feed those in need. donate clothes to hurricane victims. people are sometimes wearing the same clothes for a week while in shelters. this has to change. also check out the redcross' website for other ways to help. offer to help a church with cleaning or anything else they may need. alot of times they run programs for people who need it to get food, clothes, or help with bills. by helping out doing the grunge work, you can free up their hands to put more time into those much needed programs. let the quest to end poverty be a reality, not just a dream
GloLady says:
October 16, 2008, 4:46 pm
I'm beginning to listen more to Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party. Never knew of her Presidential running until now. She is an African American women, and might I add a natural haired one. Please check her out Also you may find her on
SoFrolushes says:
October 18, 2008, 3:28 am
I do feel that with the amount of money out there. Governments have the ability to remove poverty.


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