Seeking heroes, no superpowers required

We love Spiderman because Peter Parker is a humble guy, elevated by supernatural circumstance to a superman. And instead of cowering from the responsibility to use his powers for good, he embraces his new destiny, and fights the good fight.

But the truth is, we don’t need to be bitten by a radioactive spider to fight off the antiheroes and injustices of this world. We can all be heroes – because it is a brave act to look at the world with its problems that appear insurmountable and try to do some good anyway.

Neighbors, Inc. invites you this March to participate in the annual Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign and be a hero. Be a hero to your neighbors, to children going to school on empty stomachs, to seniors forced to choose between buying life-saving medications or live-giving food.

Every year, churches, businesses, civil organizations and individual citizens help us raise thousands of pounds of food for Minnesota FoodShare – a program that gives Neighbors funding based on how much food and funds we’re able to raise during the month of March. What this means for donors is the cans of food you buy or the $10 you donate goes further than any other time of the year, because it helps us secure additional funding. Your donations get a little extra superpower!

In 2013, Neighbors assisted 1,912 families a total of 5,144 times. In 2014, those assists jumped to 2,063 families helped a total of 6,166 times. This increase only continues the trend we’ve seen in recent years of more families coming to Neighbors more frequently for assistance. The exact cause of the increase is unknown.

Jim Clifton, the chairman and CEO of Gallup, wrote an editorial in February about how misleading the 5.6 percent unemployment rate really is, and it matches what we hear from families visiting our foodshelf. That rate doesn’t count workers who’ve given up searching for a job because it’s been so long, it doesn’t count workers who worked only 10 hours a week and are dangerously underemployed.

“The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie,” Clifton wrote Feb. 3. “And it’s a lie with consequences, because the great American dream is to have a good job, and in recent years, America has failed to deliver that dream more than it has at any time in recent memory.”

Gallup estimates only 44 percent of adults 18 and older hold “good jobs” of 30 or more hours a week that supply a regular paycheck.

Right now, there are people fighting to change that problem. But, in the meantime, your neighbors go hungry. This March, you have an opportunity to make a real difference in their lives.

The act of stretching your food budget to buy a couple cans of food for a family in-need is a heroic act. It asks you to put your own precious resources toward the ever-present problem of hunger in our society. It is an act of faith that your sacrifice will make a difference in the lives of complete strangers. That small moment in the store is an act of bravery. Thank you, hero.