Out of work for 18 months
2 kids, one 4, the other a toddler of 2.
It doesn't feel like "charity," 'cause you're helping with the paperwork and stocking/distributing.
It was run out of the church basement, and you listened, without saying anything, from people who at least had work, when they talked about how stupid the nuns were who were administrating the project, "stupid" 'cause they were certain that most of the recipients were just faking it and didn't need the groceries.
And besides, even if they did need the groceries, what kind of person has so little pride that they would take charity.
And besides, why didn't they just get a job, furchristssake?
If they're that poor, or unemployed for so long, it's gotta be their own fault, right?
Didn't say anything, so they wouldn't know that the frozen hot dogs, and the mac & cheese and ramen noodles and the cans of peaches and pineapple rings and condensed soup and the Spam came out of that church basement, along with the blocks of US agency surplus cheese.
So they wouldn't know what it felt like when you waited 'till all the (other) "clients" had left and gone home, before you put a cardboard box into the trunk of the car.
So those single moms, and teen moms, and those dads out of work, or those grandparents raising their grandkids, or those who were working under the Golden Arches for 15 hours a week or the kid who got sold on the idea that he/she didn't need school and dropped out at age 17 and couldn't figure out the logistics of finding time to study for the GED wouldn't know.
Couldn't let them, of all people, find out that the guy with a couple of years college who talked nice and could help them fill out the forms was in the same leaking boat.
That wouldn't do at all.
Gotta have some pride.
The economy got better, and jobs came along again.
And you try to forget what it felt like.
But you never really do forget. Especially when you had had been brought up to believe that as The Husband and The Father that it was your job to make sure the food was on the table, and taking handouts was just, well, wrong.
Just as well that the economy got a lot better quickly, as the donations were getting smaller and smaller.
Either because the people who had been giving were getting short themselves, or they were getting tired of seeing that the client list at the church basement never got any smaller.
At some point it dawned on The Powers That Be that there were Structural Issues. It least the feds and some of the states woke up to the fact that the churches and private charities couldn't handle the load, 'cause there were too many people poor, and too little in the way of resources.
But still, unless you catch someone using a benefit transfer debit card at the supermarket, or you see the aid voucher at that checkout you can't tell.
And you don't want anybody to know.
It's 35 years later, and you wonder, sometimes, whose doing the extra paperwork and stocking the shelves at the pantry so they can say "it ain't 'charity,' I'm working for it."
Gotta have some pride.