How to Help When Hard Times Hit

My husband being laid off has made me aware of so many things that had honestly never crossed my mind before.

For one thing, it is not as easy as I had previously thought to “just go get a job”. Yes, Walmart may have “Now hiring” sign, but that doesn’t mean they will hire a 47 year old man with a college degree and 17 years of experience in the golf industry. (Overqualified much?)

Secondly, friends and strangers from far and near have helped us in so many ways that I wouldn’t have considered doing for others before now.

Here are a few things that have been helpful and encouraging to us that you may be able to do to help someone in your church or your neighborhood.

(Please, know I am not hinting that I want MORE of these things. We have a full pantry and freezer, thanks to the generosity of friends and the provision of God. Use this information to do good for others who need it, if you feel led.)

  • Garden fresh produce – Friends have blessed us with fruits and vegetables from their gardens. We have been able to use those things for many delicious meals that we haven’t had to spend money on. (Remember, our goal is to keep paying our mortgage as long as we can.)
  • Groceries – We have a pantry full of rice, beans, pasta, canned vegetables, and more, thanks to many of you.
  • Milk, diapers, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, etc.  - These are things we use every day.
  • Walmart gift cards – We have used these to buy essentials, like toilet paper and light bulbs. If you don’t know what items a family needs, this is a perfect contribution.
  • Ice cream sandwiches and Sonic/Starbucks gift cards- Since we are only buying absolute necessities, these little luxuries are so refreshing. We would never buy these during this time, so it is a nice treat that someone provided them for us!
  • Money – A few folks have given us money, which we have used to pay the electric bill, pay the mortgage, fill our cars up with gas, etc.
  • Invitations to swim – We have gotten invitations to swim at friends’ pools and even received some city pool passes in the mail from an anonymous sender. Taking a cool dip in the pool makes the hot summer days a little more tolerable.
  • Help wanted notices – It has been encouraging when people pass along word that they know of a job opening, or clip help wanted ads out of the newspaper. Even if the job doesn’t work out, it feels good knowing folks are rooting for us and keeping their eyes open for opportunities.
  • Coupons – It’s nice to have extra coupons to look through to try to get the best possible deal on necessities. Every little bit adds up!

It is very humbling to accept these things from people, to not be able to get them for ourselves. But the fact is that we need this help right now, so we are laying down our pride and gratefully taking what is offered.

I used to think that I might offend someone if I offered them financial help or groceries, that they might think I was somehow looking down on them. I now know that there are plenty of people who would be thankful to have the things I mentioned above.

If you know a family going through a layoff or other financial difficulty, don’t be afraid to offer help. It may be just what they need to get them through.

  • Share This:
  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this Post
  • Share on Twitter

Comments

  1. Don’t forget your handwork. My mother-in-law who went through a hard time with 4 boys and a husband who after the layoff was underemployed for a few years afterwards never forgot the people who made her sons PJ’s in the winter and shorts in the summer. They were given to her with no note but she knew whoever did it realized that the little things are harder to justify buying when you have to worry about insurance, mortgage and food. She felt blessed to know people cared enough to think of each of her boys not just the groceries.

  2. Heatherr says:

    What great ideas. One of my dear friends hubby just got laid off. I will remember you great ideas. Thank you!

  3. My mother always said “Accept gracefully and then pass it on when you can”.

    So it is graceful and good for the person giving if we “accept ” help when we need it. And then pass on a smile, a hug, money or whatever when we can to someone else. I also heard that if we give (not to receive back) that if gift of love are given back to us by the same person it lowers the give not to recieve part of living like Christ.

    Love ya Bren

  4. Thanks for this list of helpful things for a family in need. Like you said, many people are so prideful, so what I learned from my best friend is to not even ask if they need help or offer, just do it, and know that they will find a use for whatever you give and that they will be tremendously blessed.

    Joanne, that is a beautiful story. Brenda, your mom was so right!

    tiannamae.blogspot.com

    • I so agree with this! My husband been laid of for 7 months now. If someone ask me if we need something I can’t bring myself to say something.

      It takes all the humility I have to accept the “gifts” that are just given to us without asking.

      People say that they will just ask others for help if they were in that situation, but I think you need to be in the situation before you say that.

      So, I love that! Just do it!

  5. I think the hardest thing for me is trying to find out who needs help. Part of that difficulty in accepting help is letting folks know that you need it. I would love to help some people in our own church…I keep hearing that there are lots of families laid off in our church, but I don’t know who they are!
    It takes humility to let others know you need help…pride says, “We’re just hoping for the best.” Humility says. “We need some help from our brothers and sisters.” I am going to pray for God to bring a family to my attention this week . Thanks, Connie!

    • HeatherS says:

      We recently had two families in our church small group that were unemployed long term and we passed word through our small group leader to other small group leaders and our pastor that help would be gratefully accepted. Both families were so blessed and I know that one other small group in particular was thrilled to know they could help someone in the church. So you might try asking your pastor or another church leader if there is some way you can help.

  6. I can so relate to this. Right this moment we are without water, in our house because of a plumbing issue. We have been without water since the second week in June. One of our friends from church has blessed our socks off, by offering, first a rental they had, that was with in walking distance from our house, for showers, and now rooms for us to live in, temporarily at her own house, because we live in the dessert and use swamp coolers, and those need water to work properly.
    We are a family of 6, they are a family of 7, and we are all working it out nicely I think. Even though thy are leaving on vacation in a week they are still letting us stay at their place while they are gone, if we need it. No worries about anything.

  7. Connie, I love the Walmart comment. It’s so true! The hardest part of my husband’s unemployment has been that my family {mostly living in Idaho without college educations} seems to think he should be applying for EVERY job opening available, even if he’s over-qualified or under-qualified. Like your hubby, mine is 49 years old, highly educated, and a total white collar corporate america guy. Welcoming people at the front door of Walmart isn’t exactly the dream job nor is it one he’d even get hired for realistically. When I tell my family he’s working to build his own business, they calm down a bit about the situation, but then during our next phone call…only a week later…they’ll ask how his job search is going. Seriously?! Ugh…I love them dearly, but nobody really understands unemployment during this recession except the people who are living it.

    Continuing to cover you and your family in prayer!

    Rosann
    http://www.christiansupermom.com/

    • I can so understand what you are going through! Dealing with our families reactions has been one of the toughest battles. They just don’t “get it.” I know they think they are trying to help, but it just seems to be the far opposite.

      My husband is actually in the process of opening his own business too! It’s really exciting to dream and have hope in this new adventure.

      God bless you!

      • Thank you! How exciting for you and your husband. It’s been a long road for my hubby to get his business to this point. He’ll be launching the official start of his business in the next few days. But he’s gone through a huge spiritual battle over the loss of his job and the lengthy unemployment. It was very hard on his self-esteem and he’s even struggled through some depression that paralyzed his ability to make any forward progress. After many prayers and many months, he finally has his groove back {for the most part} and is making huge strides to recover and rebuild our life. God is so good and I love watching His hand work and mold our life for greater things. It just goes to show it pays off to remain steadfast in our faith waiting for God’s perfect timing rather than our own. Good luck to your hubby’s new business! I will definitely be praying for you guys. :)

        Many Blessings,
        Rosann

        • Congrats on your business! My husband also is going through depression. Once we all finally admitted that is what it is (we were naive and thought depression only meant having bad thoughts) things started to improve immensely.

          It’s so encouraging to know that we are not the only ones going through this! :)

  8. Oh, yes….you WOULD think of helping others like that, and you DID! You sure helped US when we needed it. Love to you….

  9. My landlord in Minnesota was a wonderful woman who was in ministry in Mexico for many years with her husband. She would occasionally leave us gifts on the stairs leading to our apartment, always with the note “From Our Abundance.” I loved it, because I knew they didn’t have much either, but they were always willing to share!

    Thanks again for writing this series! I’ve really liked following as you write it!
    Jess

  10. We also lived through unemployment for 13 months, and I have to say that accepting help is one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do. But what a blessing our friends, family, and church were during that time. God’s provision is always enough and an amazing thing to witness firsthand.
    As far as the job hunt goes, my husband started doing handyman type jobs to put food on the table and those led to contacts (mostly business owners) who were able to get him interviews for “real jobs” much faster than the typical resume/application game.
    We’ll be praying for your family.

  11. My father (former college administrator) and husband (engineer) are both highly educated and were laid off of their jobs at different times. The most humbling part of finding work was when they were told to take their education off of their resumes to land jobs where they were competing with 17 year olds (greeter, dishwasher, cashier). Now they’re doing better (Dad has had new job for 3 years and husband’s company of 4 years is doing well). God’s blessing in all of this has been taking away our pride in 1) asking for help and 2) understanding how hard it is nowadays to get a job. Doing this has helped us better relate to others and be more of a blessing to them.

    We’ll keep you and your family in our prayers.

  12. My dh has hit 2 years of unemployment this month. He has his first job interview tomorrow morning. He is a special ed teacher and right now it’s very difficult for teachers in California to find anything. He’s already decided to start looking in another field if this job doesn’t pan out. At 52 that’s a scary proposition in this economy.
    I’ve learned that I need to set aside my pride in accepting help….

  13. Hi! Just stumbled onto this blog tonight. My dad was un- or under-employed for much of my teen years, so I can relate to a lot of what you’ve written in this post. One thing that sticks out in my mind from that time was a mystery gift bag that appeared at our church. It included in-style hair accessories for my sisters and me, and “practical luxuries” for my parents – things like individual purse-packs of tissues, breath mints, etc. aren’t on the priority list when you’re without an income, but they are SUCH a treat and that anonymous gift meant a lot. Also, the sponsor who paid my way to a youth activity that cost money (and not even a LOT of money, but more than we could spare at the time!) went a long way toward helping me feel like a normal teen.

    Gift cards to a salon could be a big help for a family who doesn’t have haircutting abilities/tools. My mom cut our hair through those years – but not everybody has that skill set!

  14. I have just found your website (#livingunderarock) and this series. Myhusband has been unemployed since 2009, minus a few months withan out of town job. We have had help from family, but this experience has made me realize how few good friends I have allowed myself to keep through the years. I think that is one of the biggest blessings from this – getting back in touch with a few people from years ago with whom I’d lost touch. We lost our home, but have been blessed in other ways. Thank you for writing this series…very inspirational and hope-giving.

Leave a Comment

*