Cold weather, at least what Mississippians consider to be cold weather, arrived overnight and is expected to stay with us for awhile.
Because it is still early November, we know the arrival of the cold is not likely to be the onset of winter. In our part of the world, November cold is not unlike military reconnaissance: Old Man Winter sends his scouts to the South to probe its most vulnerable points and assess its defenses and preparations.
Have vulnerable plants been brought inside? Have pipes been wrapped? Have outside pets been provided suitable protection from the cold and wind? Have residents retrieved their winter clothing from storage?
Within a few days, it’s a good bet that all those provisions will have been made, even though we realize by now that the current cold may not mean we won’t be in shirt sleeves on Christmas Day.
We will prepare for winter and hope for a mild one.
As we make those preparations, we find that there is an opportunity attached to it.
Invariably, as we examine our winter wardrobe, we will find warm clothing we have kept, but never intend to wear. Wool sweaters, coats, scarves and hats come out of the box and into the closet, only to be returned to the same box when spring arrives. They serve no useful purpose.
Yet somewhere in our town, a man, woman or child shivers for lack of the clothing we keep in our closets all winter.
There are no homeless shelters in the Golden Triangle and very few in the state, which means there are those in our communities for whom warm clothing is a critical need. A person who did not provide warmth or shelter for a pet would be considered cruel. What, then, is to be said of people who deny those things to people even though doing so requires no real sacrifice?
It is not likely any of us consciously refuse to provide our unwanted clothing to those who would be most grateful to have those items. More likely, it simply does not occur to us.
This week’s cold snap will certainly inspire us to assemble our winter wardrobe. As we do, we challenge everyone to carefully consider which items are unneeded and commit to donating those items for the benefit of our less fortunate neighbors.
There are many agencies and organizations that provide this kind of help to those who need it — The Salvation Army, Goodwill, and the Columbus Community Outreach Center are just a few. Your church or civic organization may also have such programs.
A closet or cedar chest is no place for warm clothes to spend the winter.
We all have the opportunity to make sure that doesn’t happen.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.
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