Tuesday, December 01, 2009

SOS for the Hungry

Four times a year our church serves a hot lunch to whomever shows up at the Redwood City community center. (Past posts are here, here, and here.)

The program, informally known as Sandwiches on Sunday ("SOS"), has been run by St. Pius Catholic Church for the past decade. Each week St. Pius parishioners faithfully make brown-bag lunches for the guests to take home. A number of Peninsula congregations, including ours, alternate responsibility for preparing the meal.

We normally prepare enough dishes to feed 40 to 60 people. Since the end of last year the numbers have risen starkly. Over 100 showed up last Sunday. Sensing that such might occur, our volunteers made extra, and we had enough to serve seconds.

Charities, like state and local government, have been squeezed by the double whammy of declining receipts and increased demand for services. Governments in extremis can compel receipts in the form of taxes; charities cannot.

December is the month when we make about 30-50% of our annual donations. Despite shrinking income, we are striving to maintain our level of giving. Maintaining donations in absolute dollar terms will be tough; we'll easily beat last year on a percentage-of-income basis.

One guiding principle this year is to direct contributions toward social services and away from educational institutions. University endowments have taken huge hits, but they have billions left. Helping people in dire straits is more important than capital projects and keeping tuition down for youngsters who have a bright future. © 2009 Stephen Yuen

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