By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Column: Give a gift to someone in need this Christmas
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

I don’t have a crystal ball or anything, but I am sure that sometime late last week or early this week, you cleaned out the refrigerator. 

This is an annual ritual done in preparation for the arrival of more food than we can consume on Thanksgiving. Next week, it is repeated for a post-Thanksgiving decluttering of leftover turkey and such.

A survey I read indicated that the average amount of food waste in the U.S. is about 30%. Even the best of us toss out 9% of our food. There are some folks who throw out as much as half of what they buy.

But, there are folks right here in our county who are trying to stretch out whatever is in the cupboard and are wondering what the next meal might be. 

I’ve always kept a place in my heart for poor folks. 

I remember as a child being taught about Jesus feeding the hungry. I remember when we would have missionaries come and visit our church and talk about getting water and food to some place that was not on the pages of the “Rand-McNally Road Atlas.” In fact, some of the places didn’t have much of a road at all.

As many of you know, I drive a school bus. The elementary school has an arrangement with an organization that provides a grocery bag of food for students to take home. 

I remember a little boy taking a bag that was a chore for him to carry. He walked up to his mother as if he had landed a big fish and presented her with the food. They both smiled as she hugged him tightly.

Earlier this year, I asked you to help me celebrate my 60th birthday by making a donation of food or money to the Georgia Mountains Food Bank. You provided enough to feed 15,000 people. That was in June, and that food was provided months ago.

Sometimes, my kids ask about what my wife or I might want for Christmas. I have plenty of ties. I have a lot of books. I don’t really need anything. Many of you are in the same boat.

You are, or have, a parent who is difficult to buy for and don’t have any real needs. How about this idea: Ask your children — or if you are buying for someone else — ask them to consider making a donation to a local food distribution organization. 

I have folks who read my column all over the country. Friends like Chuck in upstate New York, Lee in Virginia. I have friends in Nebraska and Washington state. Not to mention, I have Georgia friends from Rabun Gap to Tybee Island.

Not far from any of these places is a food bank or food pantry that serves your area. They have an almost magical ability to stretch a dollar further than you can imagine. It may be part of a church, civic club or a stand-alone organization. There’s a good chance that they can provide a card to inform your honoree that a Christmas gift has been made in their honor.

Perhaps this is the year you honor the person who has everything with a gift to benefit someone who has almost nothing.​

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the weekend Life page and on