Chicanos Por La Causa
50 Years of Empowerment


'Tis Better to Give than to Receive

Dec 15, 2017

Too many children go without during the holidays.

by Jonae Harrison, CPLC Policy Analyst

Christmas lists. Wish lists. Online. In-store. Alexa. And more.

The rhythm of the holiday beats incessantly in restaurants and stores, and on commercials and billboards. Our children, enthralled by the holiday drummer boy, dance along and write letters to Santa - misspelled and sent to the North Pole with all the hope and wonder of untarnished youth. Then comes that long awaited day of judgment, when Santa declares whether they have been naughty or nice.

In A Christmas Story, Ralphie subtly yet adeptly made his request known; he wanted a Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle. As Ralphie moved toward the Christmas tree and all the gifts beneath, the narrator relays the scene: “We plunged into the cornucopia quivering with desire and the ecstasy of unbridled avarice.” Would his “oiled, blue steel beauty” be there?

The BB gun has had its heyday. Today, it’s Fingerlings, the Pie Face game, or Lego-anything. But the youthful longing remains untempered throughout the ages. This increasingly so because of the advances in technology which makes information readily accessible and overwhelmingly tantalizing at every turn. Children cannot escape the lure of toys; it’s on the tv, the tablet, the phone, the pop-up ads.

For some children, however, there is a greater lure – food, clothing, heat.

In 2015, the federal poverty threshold was $24,036 for a family of four (with two children); those living below this level are referred to as Poor. According to research, the federal poverty threshold is not sufficient to meet even the most basic needs of a family of four. To meet their basic needs, the family income must be $48,072 (double the poverty level); those living below this level are referred to as Low Income.

25.5% of children in Arizona are poor (v. 21% national average), and an additional 25.5% live in low-income families (v. 43% national average). That is 1,200,583 Arizona children that may dream of a Hatchimal under the tree but would prefer a hot meal on top of a plate.

The numbers in Nevada and New Mexico are equally dismal: In Nevada, 21% are poor and an additional 28% low income. 30% of children living in New Mexico are poor and an additional 25% low income.

In all three states, communities of color struggle in poverty:


Poor: 36% of Hispanics, 30% of African-Americans, 46% of Native Americans

Low Income: 67% of Hispanics, 61% of African-Americans, 75% of Native Americans


Poor: 29% of Hispanics, 38% of African-Americans, 11% of Native Americans

Low Income: 64% of Hispanics, 67% of African-Americans, 35% of Native Americans


Poor: 36% of Hispanics, 29% of African-Americans, 44% of Native Americans

Low Income: 62% of Hispanics, 56% of African-Americans, 74% of Native Americans

Multiple factors influence a family’s income level. They range from parental education, parental employment status, and single versus two-parent home, among other things. Moreover, the state in which the family resides also influences the perpetuation of poverty. The education and health care system of a state, for example, impacts a child’s ability to rise out of the cycle of poverty. In other words, a child who flounders in one of the lowest ranked education systems in the country will struggle to obtain a well-paying job that would help lift him/her out of poverty. In the same way, a parent who is ousted from the Medicaid system, and no longer able to afford medical care for a debilitating condition, may be unable to bring that same child to school. The child flounders. The cycle continues.

Join CPLC as we endeavor to meet both the wants and needs of our children. During this holiday season, at our 49thAnnual Angeles del Barrio, CPLC distributed 10,000 toys and provided health & wellness resources to families in need. In every season, CPLC battles childhood poverty. Our Carl Hayden Community Center provides mentoring and enrichment programs to children. Our Parenting Arizona program teaches parental skills with the mission to promote strong families and improves the lives of children by empowering parents to thrive.

Familia, the beat of the drummer boy is enticing, but may it never be enough for us to ignore the haunting melody of our children that cry not for toys but for necessities.

Like what you read?

Please join CPLC in combatting childhood poverty by donating to support our community center. Be sure to specify "Youth Education & Services" under the "Donation Applied To" category on our Donate page.

Donations to CPLC are eligible for the Arizona Tax Credit for Contributions to Qualifying Charitable Organizations—meaning you can donate now and receive up to $400 ($800 for couples) of your donation back at tax time, either by reducing the amount you owe or increasing your refund.