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Holiday paradox 

Full stockings and hungry neighbors

Imagine an 8-year old boy waiting for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve with a plate filled with cookies he purchased at the local gas station for 75 cents, while drinking a glass of water to stave off the hunger pains that had been building up all week. The stocking he made in art class hangs on the chair next to him, empty, and on his Christmas list, along with asking for the Demolition Derby Electric Racing Set, he asked for food for him and his family.

Maybe on your Christmas list this year you've asked for a palm pilot, a ski jacket, or possibly the latest video game of XBOX, but you probably didn't wish for something as basic as food, like thousands of families in North Carolina did this holiday season.

For many of us, the holidays are filled with lavish gift exchanges and an abundance of food: squash and spinach casserole, cured ham, oyster dressing, banana pudding, pecan pie, apple crisp and cranberry cake. A lot of us worry about eating too much over the holidays, while thousands of families hope that this holiday they won't go hungry.

The Food Bank of North Carolina serves close to 400,000 people at risk of hunger in 34 counties in central and eastern North Carolina, and almost half of them are children. Thousands of children dream of receiving toys, but their true wish is to not be hungry.

It's a misconception that hunger is just a trend among homeless people without any income; it's a stark reality for thousands of working families who have at least one member of their household employed full-time. The slowly recovering economy, the havoc left by Hurricane Isabel and the widespread layoffs among textile and manufacturing companies throughout the state have left so many families facing a choice between paying rent and buying enough food for their families--a choice no family should have to make.

The Food Bank of North Carolina is asking for food and monetary donations to help feed people at risk of hunger in central and eastern North Carolina. The most needed food items are: non-perishable goods, such as canned meats and vegetables, canned tuna fish, peanut butter, and baby supplies including diapers and formula. Through leveraging, every dollar donated to the Food Bank becomes nearly $10-worth of food distributed, which provides four nutritious meals.

So this holiday, let us remind ourselves of the true meaning of giving this holiday season: May it involve not only extravagant gift exchanges with family and friends, but also giving to those less fortunate. Their only wish this season is to not go hungry.

For more information on the Food Bank of North Carolina, contact Alison Kramer at 919-875-0707 x245, or akramer@foodbankcenc.org

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