January is Poverty Awareness Month

Resources for learning and discussion at home

Explore the topic of poverty with your family and friends. Readings, discussion topics and activities are provided below for the final two weeks in January, Poverty Awareness Month. 

Week 3 | January 14 – January 21

Continue remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As a family, discuss the values that he had:

  • Equality | Read the quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. about being judged by the content of your character.  What is equality? How are we different from each other and how are we the same?
  • Nonviolence | Martin Luther King, Jr. felt that nonviolence was a powerful and just weapon. What can you do when you are angry or upset with someone to solve conflicts peacefully?
  • Love | Martin Luther King, Jr. often spoke about love and brotherhood. How can you use your energy to love yourself and help others, when someone treats you poorly?
  • Selflessness | Martin Luther King Jr. became a minister because he wanted to serve humanity. What can your family do today to volunteer on this Day of Service?

Week 4 | January 18 to January 25

This week has been set aside as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The theme this year is “Your Right Hand, O Lord, Glorious in Power.”

Consider/Discuss | Do you think we would see an end to poverty and homelessness, if Christians in the United States would work together?

Watch these videos and discuss:

Readings

Read the first Bible reading for Friday, January 13: 1 Samuel 8:4-7, 10-22A. The reading invites us to reflect on the role of our civic leaders and their obligations to implement just policies for the common good. How can you encourage our leaders to support just policies?

 Previous week's materials: 

Week 1 | January 1 – 6 [PDF document]

Wednesday, January 3: Read the scripture readings for the day

  • 1 John 2:29-3:6
  • Psalm 98:1, 3CD-4, 5-6
  • John 1:29-34.

Watch this brief video: “Catholic Social Teaching 101: Rights and Responsibilities” 
This video is followed immediately by three others that may be of interest: “Option for the Poor and Vulnerable,” “Call to Family, Community and Participation,” and “Care for God’s Creation.”

Discuss: What is solidarity and how does it call us to share in each other’s joy and suffering? Link: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catholic-social-teaching/solidarity.cfm

Learn more: Poverty is a serious reality that many are living. Do you know the facts about those living in poverty in the United States, North Carolina, and Durham? Visit these websites to learn more:

As a family read book about poverty. Some suggested books are:

  • “A Shelter in Our Car,” by Monica Gunning (grades K-3)
  • “The Lunch Thief,” by Anne C. Bromley (grades 1-4)
  • “Fly Away Home,” by Eve Bunting (grades pre-K-3)
  • “The Lady in the Box,” by Ann McGovern (grades K-4)
  • “The Family Under the Bridge,” by Natalie Savage Carlson (grades 5-8)
  • “The Hundred Dresses,” by Eleanor Estes (grades 5-8)
  • “Breaking Night,” by Liz Murray (high school & young adult)
  • “No Place to Be: Voices of Homeless Children,” by Judith Berck (high school & young adult)       

Talk about the issues these books present. Some discussion starters are:

  • How would you feel if you had to rely on a stranger to provide your lunch every day?
  • How do you feel when you are hungry and have to wait to eat? How would it feel to experience that sort of hunger every day?
  • What do you think would be the hardest part of not having a home?
  • If you did not have a place to live, what things would be most important to you? Where would you sleep? How would you stay clean?
  • What things are you grateful for? Are these things you need to live or things that are simply nice to have?

Watch for opportunities to discuss the topic of poverty beyond these books, perhaps when you see someone on the street asking for a handout, or when you’re dropping off a donation at the neighborhood food pantry.

Week 2, January 7-13 [PDF Document]

  • Read Luke 4:18. Through Baptism we share in Christ’s prophetic mission as people of God. How can you live out your baptismal advocate for and with persons in poverty locally and globally? View suggestions here
  • “It is impossible to talk about poverty, about abstract poverty. That does not exist! Poverty is the flesh of the poor Jesus in this hungry child, in the sick person, in these unjust social structures. Go, look over there at the flesh of Jesus.” – Pope Francis. To learn about the cycle of poverty, click here to watch the Poverty USA Tour.

 If your family includes children grades 6 – 12, watch this short video and discuss as a family.

  • What are your reactions to the video?
  • Do you think families are feeling more worried about making ends meet these days?
  • When you think about the financial future for you and those close to you, what are your biggest fear or concern?
  • Brainstorm ways your family and our parish could support individuals like Ebony Hughes.

If your family has children K-4/5, re-read the book you read in Week 1. Discuss the questions:

  • Who is poor in America today?
  • Do poor people only live in the city?
  • Are poor people poor because they don’t work?
  • Is there a difference between being homeless and being poor? How are they different?

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service Opportunities, January 15

  • 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. | Mass at Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral concluding with a service project. Donations of disposable diapers in all sizes can be placed in the collection bin in the Holy Cross Gathering Space until Sunday, January 14. Contact Lauren Green at lauren.green@raidio.org or 919-821-9763 for more information.
  • 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. | Assist with completing a number of facility and maintenance projects at Families Moving Forward, 300 N. Queen Street, Durham. Register by January 12 at http://unitedwaytriangle.galaxydigital.com/. Participants must be age 18 or older.
  • 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. | Repackage diapers, make no-sew blankets, package food for food pantries, and other activities at Walker Physical Education Complex at NCCU. Contact Ruby S. Messick at messick@nccu.edu or 919-530-5384.
  • 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. | Assist staff of LIFE Skills Foundation with painting, landscaping and organizing furniture at 1805 Chapel Hill Road, Durham. Register by January 12 at http://unitedwaytriangle.galaxydigital.com/. Participants must be 14 or older to participate and minors are required to have an adult with them. Lunch will be provided to volunteers.
  • 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. | Help the Diaper Bank unpack the truck from the NCCU project and restock its warehouse at 1131 E. Club Blvd, Durham. Participants must be age 5 or older; minors require an adult. Register by January 12 at http://unitedwaytriangle.galaxydigital.com/.
Tags: Family discussion topics, Poverty readings for children, Poverty Awareness Month

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