I was thinking of Pope Francis while buying a new dress for Easter.

His concern for the poor reminds me that we all have a responsibility to care for one another. Even though I really needed something decent to wear (something that fit around my new waistline), I wondered: Wouldn’t it be better if I gave this money to the poor?

I stood there for a while, pondering my decision. Finally, I did buy the dress, convincing myself that I had several occasions coming up over the summer that required something nicer than my usual blue jeans and a blouse.

Still, I am trying to be more attuned to how I spend money in light of the fact that so many are struggling to make ends meet.

Caitlin Moroney, a senior at Fontainebleau High, has also been thinking about the poor lately. In fact, she has been doing more than thinking.

The Girl Scout has been doing something about poverty as part of her Gold Award project.

On March 9, Moroney invited the public to a presentation at Fontainebleau High, outlining the issue of extreme poverty and giving ideas on what we can do to fight the problem. The presentation was titled “1.4 Billion Reasons,” offering sobering statistics from the Global Poverty Project, such as:

  • 1.4 billion —the number of people in the world who live on less than $1.50 a day.
  • 950 (the number of children who die every hour from hunger and preventable diseases.
  • 1 billion (the number of people who entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.

In doing her research, Moroney said, “it really opened my eyes. … People think that others in poverty are not working. That’s not the case.

“There is a cycle of poverty that is heartbreaking. Children are born into communities where the chances (of getting out of poverty) are so slim.”

As part of her presentation, she listed three solutions that high school students — and others — can try to embrace: raising awareness; assisting with microfinancing to help those in poverty put their skills to use; and making donations that will help the poor.

Moroney was exposed to the issue of extreme poverty last summer, she said, when she attended a Girls World Forum in Chicago.

The Gold Award project has helped Moroney see how she can make a change in the world.

“I would like to maybe do something like the Peace Corps,” she said, “to help people develop their own solutions.”

Library backs fight against hunger

One way to address poverty, and the hunger that comes with it, is to donate to the food banks in our community.

The St. Tammany Parish Library will make food donations easy and fun April 14 to April 20 when each branch celebrates National Library Week.

Donations of nonperishable food items will be accepted at all branches to benefit the Covington Food Bank, the First Baptist Church of Slidell and the Samaritan Center in Mandeville.

Each donated item will be worth $1 of fine forgiveness during National Library Week.

“Service to our community has always been our primary focus,” Library Director Donald Westmoreland said.

“We are excited to have the chance to serve St. Tammany in a new way during our National Library Week celebration.”

Tuba Skinny will perform at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Lacombe Branch, 28027 U.S. 190, Lacombe. Visitors should bring their own chairs to this outdoor concert sponsored by Friends of the Slidell Library. In the event of rain, the concert will take place at 6 p.m. on April 24.

Calliope Puppets will make two presentations of their puppet show, “Walls and Bridges: Tales of Peaceful Resolution.”

The show will feature folk tales from Russia, the Marshall Islands, the United States and China.

The first performance will be at 6:30 p.m. on April 18 at the Slidell Branch, 555 Robert Blvd. The second event will take place at 3 p.m.April 20 at the Causeway Branch, 3457 U.S. 190, Mandeville.

For more information about all of the library’s National Library Week events, visit http://www.sttammanylibrary.org.

on on April 20Paper shredding day

Too many old files and papers cluttering your house or office? Wondering how to get rid of them? Don’t throw them away! Keep Covington Beautiful is sponsoring a Paper Shredding Day on April 20 to celebrate Earth Day 2013.

The free service will take place at the Covington Trailhead, 419 N. New Hampshire, in downtown Covington, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Covington-area residents and businesses are invited to bring up to three letter-size boxes of paper documents to be securely shredded on site.

All types of office paper, sticky notes, index cards, computer binders, entire files (with clasps), and carbon/NCR forms will be accepted; there is no need to remove paper clips, staples, clasps in folders or rubber bands

What won’t be accepted? Phone books, hardback books, magazines, plastics, cassettes and videotapes.

Karen Baker writes about St. Tammany Parish. She can be reached at sliceoftammany@gmail.com.