3 Nov 2012
Hurricane Sandy's effects has left its mark here in Ontario this past week. Although Ontario did not encounter the worst of this huge storm, we still felt the heavy winds and rain, causing hundreds of thousands to lose hydro power. The northeast part of the U.S. encountered the wrath of Sandy far worst than in Ontario. Prior to reaching us in North America, a tropical depression formed in the southern Caribbean Sea off the coast of Nicaragua on October 22nd. The tropical depression turned into Tropical Storm Sandy which then became a Category 1 moving northward across the Caribbean and crossed Jamaica blowing winds at 80 mph. Sandy's tour included Cuba, the Bahamas, and dumped rain on the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Sandy turned to the northeast coast of Florida, the coast of Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, and a high pressure cold front forced Sandy to the U.S. cities of Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia, New York, and New Jersey. This unusual phenomenon became more powerful as it hit other weather systems. The power and size of Hurricane Sandy was dubbed "Frankenstorm" since it the week of Halloween. The wrath of Sandy has taken its toll on many millions of people who were left without power. Lives were lost. Property has been destroyed. Landmarks drifted away from shore. (Source: National Geographic, http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/11/02/a-timeline-of-hurricane-sandys-path-of-destruction)
People in several cities were warned about the pending hurricane and advised to prepare. It is believed that knowing more about Hurricane Sandy and how to prepare for it helped to keep people safe and saved lives which could have been lost. Knowing about the problem and learning how to deal with it can help us overcome our fears, and hopefully, to better cope with the anxiety we may face. Although we seem to have better warning of weather phenomenon, it seems that some things may not change such as sometimes a lengthy amount of time to restore power and cleaning up the floods on the streets and public transportation system, rebuilding homes, and the grief of losing loved ones, which may leave people in great despair.
I loved how Sesame Street taught kids to prepare for a hurricane. Firstly, it defined what a hurricane is and how to know what it looks like -- mainly heavy winds which could be accompanied by rain (or other precipitation, such as snow). Then, the video showed how everyone on Sesame Street were preparing, as the storm was about to arrive. When the storm hit Sesame Street, we even saw them lose power -- out came the flashlights and the shadow games began! Like Big Bird, I held on to my bear during the storm. Yes indeed, bears are always prepared to comfort young and old in every occasion, good and bad! Those of you on Facebook, I have posted the video on my Timeline (Wall) and here is the link www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=9zjrAnsa3KQ#! Check it out!
Sometimes, the news is not good, but, it does not mean that I should bury my head in the sand and hope all the problems go away. By watching the t.v. news, checking the Ontario Government websites, and even watching the Sesame Street video about preparing for hurricanes, my friends and I were able to remind each other of what we needed to do. Also, with charged up phones, I was able to contact friends, to check if they were safe, and I was glad to have that reassurance.
Last year, my office organized a day when all of us had the opportunity to volunteer at the Daily Bread Food Bank. Many of us donate food to the food banks, especially at Thanksgiving, but, few of us know how Food Banks collect, sort and distribute food to those who need this vital service. Unfortunately, I was sick last year, and once again, this year. I cannot tell you, firsthand, about my personal experience. I understand from my colleagues that everything is sorted and organized and weighed.
Since I was a child, I have seen my mom take food which she would bring to the fire department near our house, to be donated to the food bank, particularly just before Thanksgiving. Later, I would accompany her as well. As an adult, in recent years, through the food drives at the Ontario government, I brought food to my office where they would be collected and given to the food banks.
According to the Daily Bread Food Bank, the Greater Toronto Area ("GTA"), in 2012, there have been 1,123,500 visits to GTA food banks. Since the pre-recession in 2008, there has been an 18% increase of people who visit food banks in the GTA. The main reason people visit food banks is lack of income since the money that people are left with after rent has been paid is about $5.83 per day. (Source: Daily Bread Food Bank, www.dailybread.ca/learning-centre/hunger-statistics)
I encourage you to read up on research on food banks across Canada and in individual provinces, take a look at the Food Banks Canada website at www.foodbankscanada.ca/About-Us/Publications/Research.aspx because it describes the reality of single people and families. People are not making enough money to feed themselves as cost of living continues to increase. In the past five years, more people are supplementing their food purchases by visiting food banks for assistance.
I know some of you reading this have given your time on a regular basis to volunteer at food banks or for other good deeds through organizations. Some of you may give money and/or food to the food banks. No doubt, this can benefit people who use food banks.
Last year, I pushed myself to give as much as I could at Christmas time. I pushed so much till it hurt! This year, I said to myself, it does not make sense for me to have done so much in such a short period of time. So, I have decided that starting this weekend, I am going to buy food to donate to the food banks. The food bank measures food by weight and it is not easy to weigh food while I am shopping, but, I can measure by dollar amount -- so, I could spend at least $15 a month on food donations. And, it is so easy to just buy the items and drop it in a bin at the grocery store. I think one of my talents is giving. There is a great need for regular donations to food banks throughout the year, so, I believe that I can try and make a difference in the GTA in such a way -- giving year-round. If you feel the same as I do, I hope you will set a personal goal and try to make year-round donations to the food banks in your community. Giving is a personal commitment and should not be a competition against others. The winners are those who can have food in their stomachs -- all year round.
I am motivated to give by the following Bible verse, So that you will become the children of your Father who is in Heaven, for his sun rises on the good and upon the evil and his rain descends on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:45, Aramaic Bible in Plain English, 2010). I mentioned Hurricane Sandy earlier, and this storm shows us that it came upon all people -- good and evil, the just and unjust.
It doesn't matter whether you are the giver or the receiver. At some point in life, we will be the giver, and at another time, we could be the receiver. We will all encounter stormy weather at different times of our lives -- but, sometimes, you might lend me an umbrella, and sometimes, I might lend you some mitts. We can help each other out, all year round.
As Christmas approaches, I would like to say that, when it comes to gift exchanges, I wish that was not a huge deal just at that time of year. In my family, we did not give each other lots of gifts at Christmas. In my house,you would wonder whether we even celebrated it. We celebrate the ability to give, to be compassionate, to love, to help each other, to be respectful, ALL YEAR ROUND!
As I set this new goal of giving to food banks all year round, I would like to share some thoughts about giving.
1. A gift is meaningless if it is not sincere.
I am not competing against someone else and am not showing off what I give or how much I give. Only I will know. Giving is not a measure of our success, however, giving back is a way of showing our gratitude for the blessings we have received. For me, being sincere gives meaning to giving.
2. I will think about the needs of others first, and not just something that suits me or doesn't suit me.
If it's not good enough for me, I am not going to give it to someone else, so, NO EXPIRED (CANNED) FOODS! My co-workers said, at the Food Bank, volunteers have to check for expired foods which are thrown away. Also, I need to check lists provided by food banks as to what may be most needed.
3. Learn more about the recipients.
Previously, I never thought about giving certain products like whole wheat and gluten free foods. This year, I decided to pick some up. I have not seen those things listed, but, it does not mean it's not required or appreciated. I really do need to check the different area food banks which I am contributing to, and find out what is needed most.
We can learn to prepare for storms which come our way, but sometimes, when the unexpected takes us off guard, it is good to have temporary assistance from food banks, soup kitchens, and shelters for the homeless.
I hope those of you who encountered Hurricane Sandy are safe and doing well. I know there are still people whose lives have not returned to normal. Thoughts and prayers to all.
November and December will likely be busy months for me as I'm looking forward to several events to attend and hopefully, getting together with family and friends. I invite you to check out the KaTsZoNe Calendar at this time and in the next couple weeks! I have not finished listing all the events in the GTA, so, I will continue to update the calendar at www.katszone.com/page/page/6673173.htm.
Thanks for hanging out with me for another episode of KaTsZoNe! I'll check back with all of you next month -- wow, the last month of the year! How quickly time flies! And by the way, when it comes to writing KaTsZoNe and sharing with all of you -- I'm still having fun since December 2004!
EPISODE 95 - HERE WE COME! WOOHOO!!!
Calendar of Events: www.katszone.com/page/page/6673173.htm
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