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Let’s help each other and give a ‘Hand Up’ against hunger

Even the smallest amount of cash or groceries — or spare time — donated to your neighborhood food pantry or soup kitchen will be appreciated.

Volunteers help break down and repackage food at the Greater Chicago Food Depository on March 24.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

It was last year, the day before Thanksgiving, that we were in town and, of course, had to stop at the grocery store for just a few more things.

It was crowded, but people were in a good mood for the holidays and there was no COVID-19. I called my husband to pick me up at the front of the store, but when I lifted the bag of groceries out of the cart and turned toward the store’s door — I hit the concrete.

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My head was spinning as I tried to sit up. People came from all directions to help me. One woman gave me Kleenex and said, “Your forehead is bleeding.” You can imagine how my husband felt. He saw me go down and not come up. He turned on his blinkers, left the truck in the parking lane and ran.

My one knee doesn’t bend, and I had fallen on the good knee with groceries in my arms, so there was no way for me to get up. My husband got behind me to lift me up, and I will never forget the young woman who came in front of me, looked me in the eye and loudly said, “Take my hand!” The next thing I knew, I was on my feet. I will never forget all the kind, concerned people who came to my aid that day instead of turning away.

I’m telling this story because I want you, the reader, to “take my hand” so that together we can make this a better, more compassionate country. In 2019, more than 35 million people in the United States struggled with hunger. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the pandemic will cause more than 50 million people to experience food insecurity in 2020, including a potential 17 million children. Every community is home to families who struggle with food insecurity, including rural and suburban areas.

My husband and I volunteer at a food pantry in a small rural town, and we have new families coming in for aid every week. Many say they never thought they would have to come for help, but so many have lost jobs, and often both parents have lost their income.

So, I’m asking you to “take my hand” and help out any way possible. Even the smallest amount of cash or groceries — or spare time — donated to your neighborhood food pantry or soup kitchen will be appreciated.

Let’s start today and give others a “Hand Up.“

Nancy Shevel, Marengo

Media literacy education is essential in schools

In the virtual world we live in, we are constantly being bombarded by opinion and new content in the media. However, many of us don’t know how to distinguish between objective fact and biased reporting. This problem increases as the younger generation, my generation, become more immersed — not more aware — of the different types of media we consume.

Media literacy is the ability to identify forms of media and think critically about what and how information is presented. It is the ability to detect false information and biased sources. It is the ability to analyze what is truly being presented and then form our own opinions. It is an ability that is not talked about as much as it should be.

Being part of a journalism classroom at my high school, I have a space where I can learn about the media I consume. However, journalism is merely a small program at my school that students have to sign up for.

Many high schools throughout Chicago lack the funding to institute a space like the one I have. They don’t learn about forming an opinion or how to decipher through the things they read, watch and scroll through. Yet they still consume the same types of media I do.

I worry because this is a problem that will shape our future. If the youth are not educated about the types of media we consume, we will be susceptible to falling for false information. This information, more than anything, influences the way we see the world and issues that affect us.

In the age of social media, the 24/7 news cycle and having endless sources of news available at our fingertips, it is important that we learn the fundamentals of media literacy. Now, more than ever, we must learn to be skeptical about the information we consume on a daily basis.

Iliana Garner, Albany Park