Martha Thomases: A Yuletide Call To Action


Merry Christmas!

I don’t celebrate, of course. Well, I do, sort of. I volunteer at the hospital, helping Santa deliver gifts to the kids who are in-patient. My Santa is Jewish. His wife (and elf) is Jewish. So am I. We are the Shabbos goys of Christmas.

Just because it’s not my holiday doesn’t mean that I ignore the season of comfort and joy. Coming so close to the New Year, it makes me think of how to improve myself and the planet for the next twelve months.

It is possible for me to get discouraged when I think about these things. There are so many important problems to be solved – climate change, income inequality, terrorism, racism, sexism etc. etc. I don’t have any ideas that are big enough to solve these. I can’t do it all by myself.

(Aside: Thinking I have to do it all by myself is a form of grandiosity.)

So, the challenge, as I see it, is to find a finite problem and a community that might be able to solve it. I think I’ve found the problem, and I think we, as the comics community, are up to the task.

A while ago, I read this story about the growing and unmet demand for story-hours for children, especially pre-school children. Research shows that the single most important thing contributing to a person’s success is having access to books as a child.

We are comics-lovers. We love to read. We should find a way to connect with under-served communities and read to their kids.

Here are some of the challenges:

  1. We will need to find locations that are open to the public and safe for children under the age of five.
  2. We will need to find a stash of appropriate books.
  3. We will need to learn what laws cover activities like this, and take steps to be in compliance with them.

Here are some of my first thoughts, by number.

  1. Some of the bigger and better comic book stores have reading areas. Perhaps they would donate an hour or two each week for this purpose.
  2. There are excellent books for children in this age group in our medium. We might be able to raise money to purchase them, or contact the publishers for donations.
  3. Perhaps there are lawyers who are comic book fans who could advise us.

These aren’t all the problems we would face, nor are my suggestions necessarily useful. It’s not a way to reach every child in need. If anything, the kids who need it most are the hardest to involve, since they are most likely to have parents who work several jobs, don’t speak English, or are just plain apathetic.

Still, it’s a start.

What do you think? Is this something we could do? Should we start in one space, and see if it works? Do you have other ideas?

Let me know in the comments. If you really want to get involved, send me an e-mail