The Gleaners by Jean-Francois Millet

Zany business ideas are my specialty. I’m forever dreaming up some unmet need that would make a good business. When I ran out of storage space for my books, for example, I wondered aloud to my entrepreneurial husband,  “Would people pay to store their personal libraries someplace outside their home where the collection was always readily available to them?” Maybe you’ll understand why I seldom share my crazy ideas with him if you hear his response: “That’s what libraries are for.” He just doesn’t understand. And neither do a lot of other people who think my Kindle should be the answer to that problem.

If I’ve learned anything in life, it’s that you should never cast your pearls before swine. That’s why I didn’t mention one of my best ideas: allowing people to rent and trade their clothes. The reason I know it’s a reasonable idea (if not a good one) is that someone is already doing it. allows you to rent high-end dresses that might retail at $1,000 for as little as $75. Beyond that, you can even rent toys. By the time your toddler outgrows or tires of his birthday or Christmas bonanza, they could be returned to places like or

The fact that these kinds of businesses exist is a testament to the abundance of the American way of life. We get things and almost as soon as we have them, we hunger and thirst for something else. We have so much that we can’t stuff our homes any fuller. And yet, in our very midst, there are so many, many people in need. The evidence of that is all around us. People who were once secure are not. Children go to school hungry in one of the world’s richest countries. How can this be?

At the same time, it’s also true that we’re not as resourceful a people as we once were. In a TV interview, the father of a needy family explained his dire situation as he arrived home from a minimum wage job. The importance of spending time with family prevented him from seeking a second job that might have made a difference for their household of seven. I thought of my own Dad, who once worked 72 hours straight without sleep for our sake. I know there are still parents like him today. A single mother in my neighborhood works three jobs to provide for her children. Health situations and other obstacles make many parents incapable of such sacrifice.

Whatever the root causes of our nation’s hungry, they will not be solved by good intentions. Surely we were put on earth for something greater than seeing how many Harry & David boxes or Macy’s gift cards we could rack up. This Christmas, friends in my yoga classes are invited to gather food for Gleaners Food Bank. If there’s a food bank or pantry somewhere near you, won’t you find a way to contribute? Better yet, make it a year-long commitment to donate food or money every month. This is the only thing that will make a difference in the zaniest unmet need of all—hunger.

Life is short. Do the good stuff.