As we look through this issue, we marvel at the abundance of organizations and individuals essentially working overtime to assist those who are less fortunate. To the normal holidays wishes of health, happiness, and peace in the new year, we will also wish for continued energy — physical and mental — to sustain all these good deeds.

We here at U.S. 1 know the limits of energy. And to replenish our supply we will be skipping our normal publication date of December 30 and returning to our regular weekly schedule on Wednesday, January 6. Our office will be closed Monday through Wednesday, December 28 through 30. In the meantime, we recommend communicating with us via E-mail: letters and news releases to our editor, rein@princetoninfo.com; event listings to events@princetoninfo.com, ad inquiries to advertise@mercerspace.com; and classifieds to class@princetoninfo.com.

#b#To the Editor: The Door’s Open? Bah Humbug#/b#

What’s with all the shops propping their doors open on freezing cold days, causing the continuous loss of heated air and the significant waste of the energy needed to heat more? (This practice is particularly rampant in Princeton, where I live, but I have seen it in other communities as well.)

Storekeepers: I realize that you are trying to draw in shoppers. But this is an absurd and even arrogant display of your lack of concern for our energy and climate crises. I hope that others will join me in refusing to enter in the face of such waste.

Here’s an idea: Close your doors, estimate the amount you save on your heating bills, and donate it to charities that provide warm clothing for those who cannot afford it. Happy holidays!

Brian Zack

#b#No Place Like Home – Unless You Have None#/b

Most of us grew up believing that if you work hard and follow the rules, you would get a piece of the American Dream: a nice house, college for your kids, yearly vacations, and a comfortable retirement. And that’s how it works out for some — but not all — of us.

At HomeFront, where we answer more than 16,000 “cries for help” a year from Central New Jersey families who are either homeless or living in its ever-present shadow, we see a different story. Each and every day, we see how illness, injury, lack of skills, domestic upheaval, the economy, or just plain bad luck can knock a family off track, leaving parents and children homeless and hopeless.

We used to think of the homeless as skid row bums in big cities: people who drank or abused drugs, didn’t work, and deserved what they got. But the “Bowery bum” is no longer the accurate stereotype for today’s homeless person.

• A homeless person is more often than not a child: the average age of a homeless person in this country is seven years old.

• A homeless person is not necessarily unemployed: the vast majority of families we help at HomeFront are headed by someone who works fulltime, at least 40 hours a week.

• And a homeless person is not living “somewhere else” in some big city. Just last week two families with a total of five children and long-time Princeton connections came to us because they faced imminent homelessness.

Last night in Mercer County, HomeFront provided shelter and services for more than 450 people, most of them children.

Many good and generous people have been giving their talents, time, and money so HomeFront can do its work to eliminate family homelessness. Of course, we hope and need that to continue. But now, particularly in this political climate and as government continues to recede even further from taking care of our most vulnerable citizens, we are asking for something more: we are asking for your voices.

Our families feel that they have no voice, no say in the decisions being made that impact their lives. Caught up in the day-to-day struggle just for survival, they can’t see, much less address the big picture. Although legislation can be complex and candidates’ promises vague, the guiding principle is simple. And it’s up to you to stand up and say, out loud and frequently: “It is wrong for children not to have a home. It’s wrong here in Mercer County, and it’s wrong everywhere else, too.”

Connie Mercer

Executive Director, HomeFront,

www.homefrontnj.org

Thanks to All from Senior Care Ministry

Last month those of us involved with the Senior Care Ministry of Princeton found a very special reason to be thankful: the outpouring of support for our first-ever benefit. In its quiet fashion, the SCM has been part of the wider Princeton community for more than 30 years, a small, almost entirely volunteer-driven organization devoted to “simple acts of neighborly kindness.”

The SCM began life in 1984 under the aegis of St. Paul Church, and shortly thereafter became an independent non-profit organization. It serves homebound seniors, matching a volunteer corps with clients to help with shopping, medical appointments, and friendly visits. At the benefit we honored founders Sister Mary Ancilla of the Sisters of Mercy and Princeton Knights of Columbus.

To highlight the central importance of volunteerism, we also honored Mrs. Eleanor Nelson, who was among the first to volunteer for the SCM, and who tirelessly continues her community activism up to this day. To the 115 friends and sponsors who joined us at Tre Piani for a “Taste of Italy;” to our volunteers, board and staff; and to the members of the community who have made the SCM’s 30-plus years possible: thank you.

John Clearwater,

Cathy Vanderpool

SCM Benefit Co-Chairs

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