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Guest column: This holiday, help fill the need to feed our neighbors
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Meals on Wheels

How to help

Mail to: Community Council on Aging Fund at the North Georgia Community Foundation, 615 F Oak St., Suite 1300, Gainesville, GA 30501



Unmet human needs, so multiplied and prevalent all around us in today's prolonged deep economic recession.

Few of those hardships are more harmful than basic hunger, which can weaken the spirit as it ravages the body. Like other needs, hunger comes in many forms. Visible hunger — seen during the 1930s Great Depression in "bread lines," and more associated today with homelessness, shelters and food distribution points — is fortunately being met to a degree by a variety of programs, all greatly deserving of our continuing support.

But hunger comes in another form as well. Hidden hunger. For hunger can and does exist among those who have homes, but no food in those homes, or no one able to prepare what food is in the home.

Houses can hide hunger. Mortgage payments and other obligations may eviscerate inadequate income, leaving little for groceries and producing what is known as "food insecurity." And often these victims of hunger are elderly, alone or living with aged relatives, in need of the nourishment of human contact and compassion as well as that of food.

The Meals on Wheels program meets both of these needs. For some two decades in Gainesville and Hall County, that program has provided a hot meal each weekday, and with it a visit from caring souls who bring heartfelt assistance of various kinds.

But the demands on the program, and the list of those in need, have understandably grown dramatically in this recession. Many more are in need of help. Without more funds in the program, some will go wanting, that is, hungry.

How well music can often capture the human condition. A song heard recently so aptly describes our loneliness and hurt. "Hello in There," popularized by singer Bette Midler, includes these poignant lyrics, so descriptive of the want ameliorated by Meals on Wheels: "old trees just grow stronger, and old rivers grow wilder every day, but old people, they just grow lonesome, waiting for someone to say, ‘hello in there, hello.' So if ... you should spot some hollow ancient eyes, don't you pass them by and stare, as if you didn't care, say ‘hello in there, hello.'"

Not all Meals on Wheels clients are elderly, but many are. Regardless of age, as the song says, some grow lonesome waiting for someone to say, "hello in there, hello." We can all say "hello" and "we care" through this vital program which brings desperately needed nutrition with that compassionate care.

The spirit behind this effort is quintessentially the American spirit, so symbolized by this Thanksgiving season as first celebrated by those colonists so long ago at Plymouth, Mass. As Hubert Humphrey in more recent times put it, the moral test we face as a people is how we treat "those in the twilight of life, the aged, and those in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped."

Martin Luther King, Jr. put it another way: "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, ‘what are you doing for others?'"

Gainesville and Hall County have such a long history of helping our own, those among us who cannot help themselves, in countless ways over many years. Now is such a time.

We can say "hello" and "we care" for those who are in need of the helping hands of Meals on Wheels by sending our check, in whatever amount we can each manage, to the Community Council on Aging Fund at the North Georgia Community Foundation, 615 F Oak St., Suite 1300, Gainesville, GA 30501, or by contributing online at the Foundation's website,

When we do so, we refuse to simply pass by and stare, as if we didn't care. Rather, we choose to answer life's most persistent and urgent question by doing what we can to help others.

And in doing so, our own Thanksgiving will be immeasurably enhanced by the blessing of being able to be there for others in need.

Wyc Orr is a Gainesville attorney; email,

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