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Share the Love

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Like many holidays, Valentine’s Day changes meaning as we age.

In grade school, you probably exchanged candy with classmates. Maybe those little chalky hearts that say “Be Mine.”

Teachers probably encouraged you to design and color a card for your parents or grandparents.

Later in adolescence, you may have begun to question the validity of the holiday. Perhaps you even protested against celebrating it.

This rite of passage usually ends with a return to celebrating the holiday, particularly by the time you’re old enough to have a boyfriend or girlfriend.

The longevity of the holiday can be verified by the Greeting Card Association, who claims that 145 million greeting cards are bought for Valentine’s Day each year in the United States.

That means two cards are given to every five people in the United States!

No matter what your age, Valentine’s Day is about showing your love for someone else. Maybe you show your love with greeting cards, candies, flowers or dinners. Or maybe you even offer a “free” gesture of love like doing the dishes or giving a foot rub.

You can also show your love on Valentine’s Day by loving your community. Open your heart to those less fortunate, and please consider making a secure, online gift to the St. Louis Area Foodbank in honor of a loved one.

For the price of one $3 greeting card, we can provide 12 meals to your neighbors in need of a little extra love.

By Patrick Delhougne

Development associate at the St. Louis Area Foodbank.

 

Holidays on a Budget

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Ah, the holidays.

They’re a time of gift-giving, parties and jubilant celebration.

Sadly, the winter holidays are also a time of elevated stress and budget-blowing overspending.

Even those who aren’t struggling financially may find it hard to come up with the extra money for holiday gifts, décor and food.

Here at the St. Louis Area Foodbank, we know just how hard it is for many of our clients to provide their loved ones with all the traditions of the holidays.

So, we’ve created a Pinterest board specifically dedicated to celebrating holidays on a budget. We’ve got:

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• Inexpensive ideas for decorating, like bringing the outdoors inside or using wrapped gifts as décor.
• DIY tips for making homemade gifts, such as making ornaments with your child’s handprint or creating gift baskets!
• Ideas for fun and cheap holiday activities to do with the kids, like making cotton ball snowmen or reindeer cookies.
• Budget recipes for holiday meals, featuring shopping lists and cool ideas for cutting costs. (We have a whole board dedicated just to budget recipes!)

Click here to check out our Pinterest page and share some of your favorite holiday budget ideas with us in the comments!

By Bethany Prange

Communications coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank

Tator Tots and Jon Stewart – Celebrating America When Times Are Tough

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The American flag flies high above the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater / Photo by Bethany Prange

It has been a difficult few years.

Terms like layoff, poverty and hunger have become so familiar it’s hard to remember a time when the economy wasn’t troubled.

Current temperatures in the St. Louis region are hovering above 100 degrees as we approach the Fourth of July. The drought has caused many towns to cancel their annual fireworks display – and in some cases, their entire celebration.

These are reasons enough to feel a little less than enthusiastic about a mid-summer holiday.

But before you cancel your barbecue and climb under the covers to hibernate through this Independence Day, let’s take a moment to remember the things that make America so great.

• Americans are a generous lot.  We are a group of people who steps up to volunteer and donate to those less fortunate, even when we are struggling ourselves.  At the St. Louis Area Foodbank alone, more than 12,000 people volunteer here every year.  Despite their own circumstances, these individuals spend countless hours sorting and repacking food for families in need.

• Americans are clever folks. We’ve invented so many brilliant things – the Internet, toilet paper, the telephone, the artificial heart – we can forgive ourselves for reality television.

• Americans are free! Sure, we may not always like what our government does, but we live in a place where we’re free to shout about it from the rooftop. Better still, we can vote to change what we don’t like.

• Americans are resilient. As a country, we’ve faced adversity since we were born, but we just keep marching on. We’re a scrappy bunch and proud of it!

America put a man on the moon and brought the world iconic figures like Franklin Delano Roosevelt and classic designs like the 1966 Ford Mustang convertible.  From apple pie and baseball to Jon Stewart, we’ve got food, sports and entertainment in the bag.

And just in case you’re still not sure it’s great to be an American, CNN has a fun list of 100 things that make America great. Sure, they included Texas linedancing and the Dougie, but it’s still a fantastic list of unique things about this great country.

So as we approach Independence Day, let’s remember the awesomeness of being American. Even when things are tough, we still have tater tots and chocolate chip cookies!

Bethany Prange is the communications coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank

 

Soldier of Good Fortune

John Richardson packs boxes in the St. Louis Area Foodbank Volunteer Center / Photo by Bethany Prange

Last Friday, many St. Louisans left work early or watched the clock, itching to start their Memorial Day weekends as soon as their feet hit the parking lot.

But here at the St. Louis Area Foodbank, one young man patiently loaded canned goods into boxes headed for families in need.  Dedicated to his task, he seemed almost unaware of the festivities of the impending holiday weekend.

Friday was John Richardson’s first time volunteering at the Foodbank. A job developer with Life Skills, Richardson started his holiday by mentoring a young client who was here to refine his skills.

Despite the gorgeous sunny day, Richardson enjoyed the opportunity to help others. To him, it was a perfect way to honor the true meaning of Memorial Day.

Just a year ago, Richardson was in Afghanistan, serving a 10-month tour with the Army. For this soldier and so many like him, Memorial Day holds a special significance.

    Bethany Prange is the communications coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank