Moving outside your immediate circle

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2017

At the end of last month’s article, the question was asked, “What can we, as a community, do to provide opportunity for our neighbors?” It then went on to promote the Souper Bowl of Caring where community members and organizations could celebrate game day by collecting cans of soup at parties and other gatherings. The good news is that our community did just that, as we collected 1,406 pounds of food and $1,988 in donations from individuals, churches, and businesses!

This was not a “one-time” commitment from our community. Did you know that we collected and distributed more than $714,000 in gift-in-kind donations last year? Our pantry staff, volunteers, and donors did a remarkable job in receiving and distributing both food and non-durable goods such as diapers, medicine, and paper goods.

So now that we know what a generous region we live in, what else can we do to provide opportunities for those who find themselves in less fortunate circumstances? One thing we can do has nothing to do with money or physical goods, it has to do with “social capital,” which is defined as a form of economic and cultural capital in which social networks are central, and transactions are marked by reciprocity, trust, and cooperation.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

In other words, we have a tendency to move through our daily lives interacting mostly with those who share our own economic, social, and cultural values. We get jobs, scholarships, invited to parties, and picked for sports teams by who we know as much as by what we know. Those of us born into the middle class have an edge just by moving in slightly different circles.

So today I am asking you to make your circle a little bigger by treating those less fortunate with the same courtesy and respect that you give to your family and friends. It’s harder than you think. We form opinions and judgements so quickly that sometimes we don’t even recognize it’s happening. 

It takes a conscious effort to give somebody new a chance or to invite somebody new to lunch or to just say hello with a smile and ask about their day. It’s not about reaching down to help somebody up or reaching up to realize your potential. It’s about remembering that we all put our pants on one leg at a time and we all need a little social capital to hold our head up.

To donate or to learn more about our programs and services, please visit or stop by our facility for a tour at 134 White Drive in Columbus.