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Editorial: A vote for compassion

Usually, the Sunday before Election Day is the time to extol the virtues of voting. Citizens should exercise their priceless voting rights and make their voices heard.
And so you should. This is perhaps the most historic presidential election of our lifetimes. Every vote counts. But another matter also needs urgent attention this week ó one that’s not the subject of front-page stories, newscasts or robocalls ó families who are going without food.
As you make plans to vote this week, make plans also to help feed hungry families by giving food or money to Rowan Helping Ministries.
The agency has put out an urgent plea. A record number of clients have come through its doors on North Long Street these past few weeks, a fact attributed to the state of the economy. “Our food pantry is being exhausted daily as we are averaging 50 families a day receiving food assistance,” volunteer program coordinator Cam Campbell says in an e-mail. Between Oct. 20 and 25, some 443 clients requested and received assistance.
“Any food donations would be truly appreciated,” Campbell says, “and any discretionary funds you may have that could be used to purchase food for RHM would help tremendously. We are receiving great support with food donations, but the need is so great that we cannot keep the shelves stocked.”
Let’s face it. Everyone feels financially pinched right now. High-priced gasoline has depleted family resources all year. Dramatic drops in the stock market prompt even the wealthy to wonder about the future, while foreclosure is a reality for all too many people right now. As usual, the need for assistance peaks at the very time people are the least able to lend a helping hand. The Rowan County United Way and its 16 member agencies have certainly experienced that this year, with its campaign now extended in hopes of reaching the goal. Please do your part.
And please help address this most immediate need. Rowan Helping Ministries is handing out food as fast as it comes in, sometimes faster. Hence the call for more donations.
Many have sacrificed their lives to protect democratic rights like voting, free speech and freedom of religion. They went to war to protect the American way of life. Fortunately, another part of that way of life is compassion. This is not a culture that looks the other way while people go hungry.
Remember the power of one this week and exercise it ó one gift to help the hungry as well as one vote to choose our leaders. In a nation of millions, an individual can feel small and insignificant. But your vote counts. And your donation could help feed a family that has turned to Rowan Helping Ministries as a last resort. They should not have to go away empty-handed.

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