On the pages of this week's Journal — and for the next four weeks — you will find our annual Gift Guide catalog full of clever and innovative offerings from local retailers. You know the drill: Shopping at local indie stores increases the economic impact by recycling dollars, strengthens communities (meet your neighbors, solve problems), creates jobs (local businesses hire local accountants), and enhances choices. Independent retailers are also famously more generous in supporting nonprofits, events, sports teams and other good causes. (PS: Kudos to Journal graphic designer Lynn Jones for a beautiful redesign of this year's Gift Guide.)
While you are getting your wallet ready for your holiday spending spree, we'd like to remind you to be as generous as you can to your own neighbors who are way less fortunate. I'll tell you how in a minute, but first — why.
We muddled through the Great Recession of 2007-2009. So why does the use of food stamps (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP) continue to grow — from 26 million Americans in 2007 to 48 million today? How come that many more people need help this year than last and the year before? Well, that recovery has been weak and profoundly lopsided. "Adjusted for inflation, the income of the top 1 percent rose 31 percent from 2009 to 2012, but the real income of the bottom 40 percent actually fell 6 percent," according to a recent column by Paul Krugman in the New York Times. "Two-thirds of the SNAP beneficiaries are children, the elderly or the disabled, and most the rest are adults with children."
On Dec. 5 the Journal will publish a report from Food for People on hunger in our community. Please take the time to read about the plight of your neighbors. And then look for the envelope that will be inserted into the newspaper that week to mail in donations directly to FFP.
The last two years, Journal readers have been very generous. As the wealth in this country continues to accumulate to the top 1 percent, we need to dig even deeper to help the bottom 40 percent. Please help again this year.