By the AJC Editorial Board
Thanksgiving is but a warm memory. Most metro Atlantans once again had more than enough food and fixin’s to pass around our holiday tables. That alone is worthy of our ongoing, sincere thanks.
Savoring this season of plenty gains new meaning, though, when we consider — as we should — that not all are fortunate enough to have refrigerator shelves that are sagging today under the weight of so many leftovers.
In this region, across Georgia and this great nation, millions of our neighbors are struggling through the turbulent economy churned up by the Great Recession.
Their woes take vastly differing forms and levels of severity, depending on where you look.
This latest recession was of such power and ferocity that its force was felt much farther up the economic ladder than would be expected. The once-solid middle-class citizenry that filled Atlanta’s expansive subdivisions has been hammered by the downturn. Homes large and small have been lost, and investment portfolios have been raided and sometimes emptied as people try desperately to hold on for better times. Counted in these ranks are folks who, not that long ago, worked jobs and paid their taxes.
Others in need are not strangers to hard times. Some are homeless. They are the folks who have taken up residence under dank highway overpasses with little more than ragged clothes and a cardboard mattress for comfort. Despite sustained efforts such as the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta’s homeless outreach and others, their condition remains stubbornly with us.
These situations are an understandable result in a region and state where the jobless rate for the past year has jittered around the 10 percent mark. Many are enduring times of a hardness not seen in generations.
They need our aid. As guest columnists on this page point out, Atlantans can help the deserving less-fortunate in a multitude of ways using gifts of time or coin.
It’s easy, really, to write off strangers in a bad way as being too lazy, substance-addicted or whatever to take care of themselves.
It should be a lot harder for decent folks to turn away from sincere human needs when we discover them in our neighborhood, house of worship or even in our own families. They are there and not hard to find.
We know them. We can help them, each in our own manner. Let’s do it.
Andre Jackson, for the Editorial Board