"On February 18th and 19th, Freeport Community Services staff, board members and volunteers will be spending 24 hours standing in the cold to make the point that there are residents of Freeport and Pownal who are struggling to keep fuel in their tanks and food on their tables this winter. It's the seventh annual Freeze Out Fuel and Food Drive.
"Sue Mack, FCS Family Services Coordinator, will lead the steadfast group who stays outside and awake for the entire 24 hours...(T)his event is organized to provide community members with the basic necessities of a warm home and food on the table. All are welcome and encouraged to join her during this twenty-four hour drive."
That is an excerpt from an item published in The Notes this week and it got me to thinking (again) about the town's budget priorities. Last year the Town Council approved the expenditure of $2.3million to develop some athletic fields because, as one of them later explained to me, the proposal was a "golden opportunity" to make Freeport a more attractive (to people with lots of money, presumably) place to live. And now our Community Services organization is literally begging for money to help residents heat their homes and put food on the table. Clearly the Council's spending priorities are out of whack.
The goal for this year's Freeze Out Fuel/Food Drive is $10,000. Just to put the whole thing in perspective, that sum is less than one-half of one percent of the money allocated for the athletic fields. It does not seem unreasonable to ask Council members to rethink their priorities when it comes to spending public funds. As I said in my email to them, a proposal to help our neighbors in need might not present a "golden opportunity" but it does present an opportunity to follow the "Golden Rule" - which do you think should get the first priority?