Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Hebron Crossroads 10-10-04 By Jeff Gill
Are You Financially Disabled?
Friends and folk about the Hebron Crossroads, we are less than 90 days out from that great festival of consumerism and self-indulgence called “the Holiday Season.”
Actually, all of the 90 days ahead are part of that new social construct, “the Holiday Season,” starting with costumed extravagance and culminating in a brief nod by some of us to a manger and the Child found under a star. But by the time we reach that evening to honor the Prince of Peace by candlelight, many more of us will have committed financial sins aplenty by stark fluorescent light in stores and malls and businesses near and (online) afar.
We're now up to over $8000 in average household credit card debt in America, and that's before gift giving and self-indulging this year potentially adds to the pile of financial burden. Jean Chatzky points out that we can make that go away in three years by just cutting an average of $10 a day of spending. . .but you've gotta put that $300 a month to paying off high-interest debt, not just shift it around to other outlays.
Now is the time, not in our 2005 resolutions, to stop and assess our personal and family financial fitness. Indeed, many of us who work with families in the Lakewood area – and far beyond – fear that there are many who are financially impaired, “disabled” in a manner of speaking, with no few even qualifying as “shopaholics.” Are you one? Well . . .
If you’ve held a yard sale because you had too much stuff and too little cash, and then went right out to buy stuff with the proceeds, you might be a shopaholic.
If you are unsure how many credit cards you have active currently, you might be a shopaholic.
If you can’t answer within $20 what your *unpaid* balance on credit cards is right now, you might be a shopaholic.
If you have your children (or grandchildren) answer the phone in case bill collectors may be calling, you might be a shopaholic.
If you have a closet, room, or garage full of packages mailed to you that are as yet unopened even though you bought them online or by phone with great anticipation, you might be a shopaholic.
If you got a home equity loan and spent it on stuff (clothes, computers, CDs, DVDs, sports equipment, or even eating out), you might be a shopaholic.
If you have declared bankruptcy once already, and are starting to build up consumer debt of any sort, you might be a shopaholic.
Somewhat less drastically, you may just be “financially disabled”: for instance, if you don’t know what percentage of your income goes to housing (rent/mortgage, utilities, annual upkeep costs), or what percent of your income goes to transportation (car payments, gas, annual maintenance like oil, brakes, tires), you might be financially disabled.. In fact, if over a third of your income goes to housing costs, you might be severely financially disabled.
Actually, if you don’t even know what your annual/monthly income actually is, you might be *very* severely financially disabled. Not “oh, I just don’t make enough to pay my bills!” OK, I understand, but how much do you bring in? Can’t make a budget until you know that number for the bottom of the page. No budget? You might be financially disabled.
If you don’t know what percent of your monthly income goes to paying off credit cards, you might be financially disabled.
If you don’t have three months living expenses put away where you won’t just spend it, but can get at it if necessary (so retirement funds don’t count), you might be financially disabled.
If you don’t have a budget figure for vacations (hey, I didn’t say this was a no-fun zone), you might be financially disabled. After all, if you don’t budget it, you’ll spend whatever is at hand, even if it was money that you had a “plan” for last month . . . like the money to pay off the credit card.
If you don’t have a budget figure for giving to causes you believe in – if only to remind ourselves that our money, no matter how hard-earned, is just a gift that we’re given for a brief time to use in making the world a better place -- you might be financially disabled.
So what do we do if we’ve honestly answered these questions, and have seen ourselves in a mirror?
First, ask yourself: can I stop on my own? If you’ve never done yourself the courtesy of asking that question, try it, and see what you say.
Second, ask a friend to help: always a good idea (we aren’t made to be alone, in problems or in celebrations), unless our friends all have the same problems . . . in which case you may want to branch out a bit.
Third, check in with a minister, counselor, or person you respect in your circle of activities. Trust this pastor: they won’t be shocked, and they will have heard it all before. Really. They may suggest a few non-fun ideas like slowing or stopping a $20 a week smoking habit (times 52, makes over $1000 a year!) or cutting out the daily latte ($3.50 times 250 makes $875!) but they will understand, and have constructive ideas to help.
And fourth, those same folk may suggest Consumer Credit Counseling, available in both Licking and Franklin Counties. They can take the big wads o’ debt and roll them up into a smaller ball that can be juggled successfully. They’re at 349-7066, and are ready to be of service to you now, let alone after “the holidays.”
Or check in with your local bankers. You may think bankers are all about getting your money, but they actually profit more from helping you keep your cash together than letting it be spread to the four winds. I happen to think well of Betty Green and her 50-plus years of experience in the Hebron area with Park National, but whoever your banker is, stop by and ask their counsel.
Whatever steps you take, you will find that your enjoyment of the holidays is much deeper and wider when your worries over finances are smaller and manageable. Let your memories be rich and your worries be poor when 2005 rolls around!
Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and an advocate for financial literacy at all ages. If you have holiday savings tips or news of local interest, call 928-4066 or e-mail
Hebron Crossroads 10-03b-04
By Jeff Gill

Fall makes me think of dinner; actually, there’s very little that doesn’t make me think of mealtime. Cooler temperatures and an early sunset turns our hearts . . . and stomachs . . . to a filling, hearty supper.
The United Methodist Church of Hebron is having their Fall Baked Steak Dinner next Saturday, Oct. 9, from 4:30 to 7 o’clock or so. $5.50 for adults, $2 for children, and carryouts are available. Call the church office at 928-2471 for more information. They’re right on East Main Street, the name our old National Road, US 40 takes as it goes through the Hebron Crossroads from coast to (nearly) coast.
To the west, down US 40 out of town past Sunset Hill, Devine Farms is having their Fall Festival this weekend, next, and on until Sunday, Oct. 31. Ralph and Charla have their grounds open from 10 am to 6 pm Saturdays and Noon to 6 pm Sundays, with no admission fee or parking charge, and most activities still $1.00. Oh, and you can buy pumpkins, too! And gourds, and honey, and cornstalks, and pumpkin butter.
The Little Guy is already psyched for the barrel train (but how much longer will he fit?) and the corn maze.
Honor system straw and squirrel or indian corn available right through the week; just stick your hand in the pumpkin’s mouth (go and read the signs, you’ll see). Questions? Call 928-8320 or just visit on-line at
New Life Community Church has a website, too: They are now worshiping weekly in the space they’re renting at Lakewood Middle School facing . . . yep, US 40, east of Hebron. Brian Harkness, their pastor, reports about 90 in worship with them after a launch service with over 150.
Well, we’ve got to get off of 40 for a bit, anyhow. Let’s turn north at Luray and go up Ohio 37 to Infirmary Mound Park, where Rich Niccum is organizing the Licking Park District “Autumn gathering and Harvest Moon
Rendezvous” on October 9 and 10. He tells us that “we are in dire need of scarecrow entries. The contest is simple. All you need to do is create a scarecrow. It can be any size and in any form from traditional to contemporary. The scarecrows are then judged by public voting at the
event and then ribbons are handed out just like an old-fashioned country fair. The winner will then be displayed at The Works the following week during their fall festival.”
Sound interesting? Give Rich a holler at 323-0520 if your group would like to (quickly) put together a scarecrow for the show.
Or just mark those days on your calendar to drop by and see who got stuffed . . .
Our Medicare program at the Municipal Complex was attended by a few dozen interested seniors and friends; thanks again to Alice Gordon from Licking County Aging Program and her volunteer aide, Mary Ann Draa.
She also brought one Larry Fugate (you were expecting two? Get out of my column, Larry) who spoke about the upcoming Senior Levy on the Nov. 2 ballot; this and the Children’s Services Levies are a small but vital part of our local tax base that have clearly earned our support and continuance.
Hubert Humphrey talked about the need of a good society to care for those in the sunrise of life, the sunset of life, and in the shadows of life: good foster care and child abuse response in the Children’s Levy, subsidized programs like Meals on Wheels and local feeding programs through the Senior Levy, and all the work through the United Way for the hungry and the homeless answer that call.
As to the Medicare issues, we did learn that while anyone who is on Social Security qualifies for some drug discount through a prescription discount card, those who have an income under around $12,500 for a single retired person or $16,800 for a couple can get $600 credit on this year, and again for next year, as things currently stand.
After the fall elections, who knows . . . you did know there was an election coming up, right?
Larry also mentioned that we are heading to a record year for Licking County registrations (something around 105,000) with expectations for over 80,000 voting on Tuesday, Nov. 2.
And then we’ll get our more familiar annoying commercials back . . .

Jeff Gill is pastor at Hebron Christian Church and a registered voter; if you have questions about registration, absentee voting, or news of local interest, call 928-4066 or e-mail
Notes From My Knapsack -- October "The Church Window"
As the children have been traveling the world on their "flying carpets," visiting mission projects around the globe, the visit to the hurricane ravaged islands of the Caribbean caught many worshipers’ attention.When we “flew low” to see the deployment of Interfaith Medical Assistance boxes in village squares on Haiti and Grenada, a number of you took note, and asked later: what would we need to do to “refill” some of those, which will no doubt be needed again.Well, thanks to Johnny Wray, our Disciples of Christ director for Week of Compassion ministries (see, here’s the list, and we will have envelopes in church the next few weeks for offerings. We’re asked to add $350 per set of supplies we send, so that they can get donated and deeply discounted medical supplies to finish the box.Johnny tells us “with Medicines and Medical Supplies Donated by Pharmaceutical Companies plus Medicines and Medical Products Purchased with Your Cash Gift your $400 Medicine Box is valued at approximately $2,000! Weighing no more than 70 pounds, the I.M.A. Medicine Box® is designed to treat the common illnesses of approximately 1,000 adults and children for 2-3 months. Health care workers, as well as volunteer medical mission teams, tell us how much they value the Medicine Box for its delivery of consistent medicines and medical supplies that are appropriate to the health needs of the developing world.”You can see the list elsewhere in the newsletter (and on an insert in the bulletin the next few weeks), and bring in some items, or simply add to the donation, and we’ll let you know how many bright red IMA boxes Hebron can make up!In Grace & Peace,Pastor Jeffps: the youth collected over 100 items in their food pantry scavenger hunt! Good work, gang!!
Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), 325 mg (5gr) tablets, 1,000 tablets (*bottles of 100 tablets or more if possible), preferred brands are Bayer Aspirin, Rite-Aid Aspirin, Equate Aspirin.
Ferrous Sulfate 65 mg tablets (65 mg iron), 500 tablets (*packets of 100 tablets)
Children's Multivitamins with Iron, Chewable tablets, 500 tablets (*bottles of 100 tablets or more if possible), preferred brands are Flintstones Plus Iron, or Centrum Kids Complete.
Adult Multivitamins with Iron, Tablets 500 tablets (*bottles of 100 tablets or more if possible), preferred: Theragran-M, Nature Made Therapeutic-M.
Children's Acetaminophen, 80 mg chewable tablets, 300 tablets, preferred: Children's Tylenol (note: usually available in bottles of 30 tablets only).
Triple Antibiotic Topical Ointment, 1/2 oz tubes, 4 tubes, such as Neosporin Ointment.
Sterile Gauze Pads, 4 x 4, 50 pads, preferred: Johnson & Johnson or Curity.
First Aid Adhesive Tape 1/2" or 1" x 10 yds or more, 6 rolls, preferred: Johnson & Johnson, Curity.
Please follow these collection guidelines:
Products must be new products, with unbroken seals.
Products must have expiration dates of 18 months or longer; purchase longest dating possible.
No substitution of products or strengths is acceptable.
Send only complete kits containing all required products, in quantities shown.
Generic brands are acceptable. Ask your pharmacist if a generic brand is equivalent to the listed example products.
Where possible, purchase tablets in bottles of 100 or more.
Samples are not acceptable.
For example, if the required number of tablets is 1,000, collect: 1 bottle of 1,000 tablets; or 2 bottles of 500 tablets each; or 4 bottles of 300 or 250 tablets each; or 8 bottles of 130 tablets each; etc.