Bruce's Blog


You Can't Buy That With Food Stamps

November 1st, 2010

Rick and Cindy Mathis live in UCOM’s service area and have long been supporters of the many programs here that help people to cope with current economic struggles, as well as some of the options we provide for helping people have brighter futures. They have a couple of ideas that are newsworthy. (In fact, FOX-TV17 was at UCOM last week to report on the stories).

One of the ways that Rick and Cindy celebrate Christmas is to save the money they would spend on each other’s present and make a collective gift to the people who depend on UCOM’s client choice food pantry. According to Rick, this helps both of them to experience the real joy of giving. It also helps to set an example for their two-year-old daughter. “I like to help people,” she says as she helps her daddy put personal care products on the shelves.

That’s right. I wrote “personal care products”. That’s the other great idea that Rick and Cindy had. How long could your family go without toilet paper? Or deodorant? Toothpaste and toothbrushes? Bath or laundry soap? The list goes on and on of these daily necessities that we often take for granted. These are things that you can’t buy with food stamps, even if you are able to collect something from this humanitarian government project.

Rick and Cindy have started buying an extra personal care item or two each time they go to the store. “If your grocery bill is $100 for the week, you won’t notice an extra two or three dollars for these products,” Rick said. They save the product and make a monthly trip to UCOM to drop them off, knowing that clients who need the personal care items will receive them with a smile from a volunteer or staff member.

Rick and Cindy didn’t stop there, though. One day recently they had a brainstorm: why not use FaceBook to invite all of their friends to use a similar process: pick up a personal care item each time they are at the store and then save them up for a trip to their local pantry. Before long, Rick and Cindy had 20 friends that had agreed to do this. Some of them invited their own FaceBook friends to be involved in the project. Soon there were 60 friends and then more.

As the publicity builds—FOX News, The Rapidian, print media, UCOM’s FaceBook page, Twitter retweets, and other media—it could be a national or international trend. Such is the power of social media as a vehicle for connecting people who are interested in social justice.

The Bible talks about encouraging one another (literally, “goading one another”) to do good works. Rick and Cindy are the best kind of goad-ers. I joined their group right away, and have already made my first gift. If you joined too and asked your friends to join you and they asked their friends…. I think you get the idea. A trickle becomes a stream becomes a river, becomes an ocean…and everybody has what they need without any one person having to sacrifice too much to make it happen. When we all do our best, there is enough.


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