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Thanks for giving: Its what it comes down to

Oregon has way too many hungry people;

Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday for many Americans. The day wears its focus right in its name: Thanks for giving.

The nation's bounty is played out over and over as families and friends gather to enjoy comraderie, food and traditions.

Unfortunately, not all Americans - or Oregonians, for that matter -are fully able to participate in what this holiday is all about.

Oregon's rising economy hasn't lifted all citizens from the depths of poverty.

Despite the good news last week that Oregon's unemployment rate is at its lowest level in six years, thousands upon thousands of people in this state are still without adequate supplies of food in their cupboards. Oregon traditionally rates high on the number of hungry people within its borders.

There are many resources for people to give; many ways those of us who have can thankfully help those in need: Churches, food banks, soup kitchens, government programs, individual assistance all play a role.

Readers of the Lake Oswego Review can help their neighbors in need by filling the grocery bag included in last week's newspaper - or using any bag for that matter. The food that's donated will be delivered to the Oregon Food Bank, whose mission it is to make certain that no one in this state goes hungry.

People can drop those bags off any time before Dec. 22 at the Review office, 400 Second St., or any local Jiffy Lube, U.S. Bank or Albertsons.

The intractability of hunger has been painfully evident during the most recent economic recovery, and statistics from the food bank may help explain why. The food bank's 2006 Hunger Factors Survey shows that hunger isn't declining with the unemployment rate because most of the new jobs being created are at the lower end of the pay scale. In addition, these jobs typically don't come with full medical benefits, so families are spending a greater portion of their incomes on health care. The high cost of fuel and housing also is consuming a larger percentage of family income.

That leaves less money for groceries, and the end result is that 194,000 people in the Portland metropolitan area are eating from an emergency food box each month. That statistic becomes even more heartbreaking when you consider that 72,000 of those food recipients are children.

Many of these families can be counted among the working poor. Nearly half of all households receiving food boxes contain at least one working adult. And in those households where no one is employed, the adults may be looking for jobs, but often without the advantage of a telephone or a car.

While hunger in our community remains stubbornly widespread, this isn't a problem without solutions. One effective and rewarding response is to take the bag from last week's paper - or any bag - and fill it with non-perishable food items.

There are other ways to help and we don't claim to have a lock on any solution. We just acknowledge that there is a big problem and sometimes people need a little help in knowing how to help. Here's one way for your consideration.

Whatever you do, remember that help is needed.

Thanks for giving.

Happy holidays.