I'm sorry if you are coming to this blog looking for a respite from the horrifying Katrina news. There's nothing I can say about Katrina and its aftermath that hasn't been said better, by , , but here's one thing I hope people think about: many areas of the country, not just the Gulf Coast areas, are going to be affected as gas prices go up and up and stay high. When you need to buy gas to get to work, that money has gotta come from somewhere, because in 99% of this country, public transport is not an option. Biking to work is not an option. Walking to work is certainly not an option.
I am seeing posts all over the internet asking "Where can I send food, where can I send clothes and bedding and toys to the folks hit by Katrina?" And many organizations are saying "Thanks, but we need cash." But — poor people, just as poor as those left behind to suffer in New Orleans, are going to be hit by a gas price hurricane, right where you live, wherever you live. So, please: think about making regular donations, every month of this year, to the local food pantry. Clean out your closets and give those warm clothes you never wear to a local charity — bonus points for giving business clothes to and other work-enabling charities.
We don't have gas stamps. The Salvation Army doesn't have a gas kitchen. There's no Gas for Families with Dependent Children. There's no Gas for Tots program at Christmastime. If you want gas, you have to have money. High gas prices are going to take a big chunk out of the pockets of the people who can least afford it. Rising gas prices are going to mean hungry and cold people all winter long.
I am not talking about gas companies' profits, or gouging, or whatever. I am not talking about whether gas prices should be high, to discourage people from driving, or to encourage public transit, or whatever. Sure, people like me can drive less, walk more, conserve. For other people, the choice isn't between a job far away and a job close by: the choice is between a job far away or no job. That's not a choice. The single mom who has to drive to the suburbs to work or else her kids need to spend three hours before AND after school in care? That's not a choice.
So, please, give what money you can to Katrina relief now. But please also make a resolution to give what you can to your local charities, now and all winter long. I've just put a repeating reminder in my calendar on the 29th of each month for the next year, to remember to see what I can give on that day. Call it Katrina Donation Day.