As the year comes to an end, many of us are thinking of what to buy for those close to us. The streets and malls are increasingly filled with shoppers.
In these days before Christmas we should all also consider giving of our time and resources to those who are less fortunate. There are many people in our communities struggling to make it, and not for lack of trying. Hard times could hit any of us at any time.
Unemployment is high. Many cannot afford to keep their electricity on, especially with the recent spike in fuel surcharge costs. Some can barely afford food.
The aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis lingered here for almost a decade. Business owners and executives could attest to how desperate many Bahamians were during the worst of this period. A simple help wanted advertisement for the lowest of posts could have led to a flood of applications. Some who applied once held high-flying jobs. But in bad times all they wanted was a job – any job.
While unemployment stands at 10 percent, growth has returned. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts real GDP growth for the Bahamian economy of 2.3 percent this year and 2.1 percent in 2019. The Bahamas is being pulled along by prosperity in the United States and Canada.
A strong year in tourism as a result of wealthy North American travelers visiting in large numbers means more Bahamians have a few dollars in their pockets as compared to the worst of the down period.
We in good standing, who are benefiting from better times, should give back this holiday season. Help those who have little to nothing. A small gift of money or time could put food in the stomachs of a struggling family, or gifts under a small Christmas tree for children in a bad circumstance. And those gifts may be the only ones those children receive this year.
There are many reputable charities in The Bahamas. The Ranfurly Homes for Children, the Children’s Emergency Hostel, the Salvation Army, Hands for Hunger, the Bahamas Association for the Physically Disabled and Great Commission Ministries are just a few of the organizations doing good work to help those in need. Inquire. Ask how you could help.
Take time to give this holiday season. Lighten the burden of another. Put a smile on some kid’s face who thinks no one cares. Make an effort to spread holiday cheer beyond those in your immediate circle.