Did you know that this Sunday is International Day for the Eradication of Poverty?

Did you even know that is an actual day?

That’s right, every Oct. 17 is International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, as declared by the United Nations in 1992. It arose from the day in 1987 when over 100,000 people gathered in Paris to honor the victims of extreme poverty, violence and hunger, and to declare their commitment to eliminating these issues.

Today, right here in Columbia, poverty remains a persistent issue for far too many. According to the U.S. Census, 21.8% of Columbians live below the poverty line, many more than the national average of 12.3%. Pretty shocking, huh?

Importantly, poverty brings with it a wide range of problems that go beyond affording a place to live and food to eat.

Our fellow citizens in poverty tend to face greater incidence of dangerous work conditions, unsafe housing, unequal access to justice, lack of political power and limited access to health care. That is just to get the list of challenges started.

As if all of these things were not bad enough, along came COVID-19 and a pandemic that hit those in poverty the hardest. Globally, according to the World Bank, between 88 and 115 million people are being pushed into poverty as a result of the crisis. In 2021, this number is expected to have risen to between 143 and 163 million.

Those fighting poverty in Columbia see the impact every day.

As a community, we definitely have our work cut out for us, as we can attest here at The Salvation Army. A big part of our core mission is to fight poverty — serving over 33,000 meals each year; providing over 16,000 nights of shelter to individuals and families; and maintaining our thrift stores, where anyone can find affordable clothes, furniture, books, toys and so much more.

These are just a few of the things we do as we take a holistic approach, serving the entire person, as we attempt to help with immediate needs and assist them onto a path out of poverty.

Thankfully, Columbia is blessed with many organizations and individuals engaged in the fight, committed to helping those in need. The United Way and the Community Foundation of Central Missouri work with many organizations to address the problems of poverty and other human ills.

Organizations such as Boys & Girls Clubs, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Granny’s House focus their energies on children. The Food Bank, Voluntary Action Center and Central Missouri Community Action are well-respected nonprofits that engage daily in this fight.

And we must not forget the efforts of Columbia Public Schools, the faith community, the City of Columbia and so many others. (Oh, and let’s give a nod to Almeta Crayton’s Everybody Eats, a mainstay of Thanksgiving in Columbia).

Poverty is a massive problem and those of us in the fight need as much help as we can get. That is why there has to be an International Eradication of Poverty Day, and why we should take time to recognize it in Columbia and all over the world.

In the coming weeks and months, we will explore Columbia’s war on poverty. We will talk to those at all levels of the fight and do our best to both uplift them and shine light on the problems.

Recognize the day. Consider the long-term problem. Get in the fight.

Major Curtiss Hartley is a leader of The Salvation Army in Central Missouri, with facilities in Columbia and Jefferson City. The Salvation Army provides a wide range of community services to address poverty and other issues, seeking to rebuild lives and create lasting change.

>>> ad: See the Best Amazon Deals of TODAY! <<<<
Originally Appeared Here