I wrote an introduction to last year's Journal Gift Guide that, in hindsight, was too damn cheerful. I said, although we were two years into this recession -- really, things could have been much worse here in Humboldt County. Although there were new, visible tears in the social fabric of our community, most of us were still in our homes or apartments, and most local businesses still had their doors open. (We do have that buffer from the underground economy, at least for the time being.) I urged Journal readers to support local businesses whenever they could during the holiday shopping season for many reasons, including the fact that independent businesses donate more than twice as much per sales dollar to local nonprofits than chains do. (Source: American Independent Business Alliance.)
Fast-forward one year and while the economy didn't crash, things certainly are not better. Not enough stimulus, Obama. (It's a perfectly good s-word. Why abandon it?) Hey, Congress: Your No. 1 job is not to raise funds for reelection. The purpose of government is not to cater to big business, Wall Street and their lobbyists. I'm not ready to occupy the courthouse lawn yet -- what's left of it, anyway, behind the fence -- but count me among the pissed.
So what can we do besides shop local? Two weeks ago I went down to Food for People in Eureka, the umbrella agency for all hunger-relief efforts in Humboldt County. It's our local food bank, where people run 12 separate programs, including 17 food pantries serving individuals and families, seniors and children. I asked the question, how much worse off are we than last year? It's only one statistic out of many, but it's shocking: They told me requests for food are up 45 percent in one year. In one year.
The North Coast Journal this year is teaming up with KHUM radio to raise awareness and collect food and money for Food for People. The week after Thanksgiving -- Monday, Nov. 28 through Friday, Dec. 2 -- KHUM will again be doing live, remote broadcasts from grocery stores throughout the county, handing out information and collecting money and food. (Next week we will publish the store locations and times.)
The Dec. 1 edition of the North Coast Journal will carry a special four-page insert -- a report to the community from Food for People. All 21,000 copies of the Journal that week will also contain an envelope for you to donate directly to hunger relief. You can take your envelope with you when you go shopping for groceries at one of the KHUM live-remote locations, or you can drop your donation directly into the mail.
We realize that getting food to hungry people won't repair the underlying rot that leaves so many in need and desperate. We promise the Journal will keep on examining why so much has gone so wrong, and what can be done to fix it. But we also want to do our part to help.
Journal readers and KHUM listeners are a generous bunch. We'd also like to thank Times Printing for helping print the envelopes and our great press crew partners, Western Web, for generously inserting those pesky envelops at no charge.
Two weeks, people. Watch for the envelope.