Ok, you guys know that the holidays are coming up, and with that? Cold weather. I know I’m excited about knee boots and tights and the smell of fall, but the changing temperatures mean something totally different to those without homes.
I know I personally don’t have a problem giving cash to the homeless (though I rarely have any on me anyway); I figure that I’m not going to spend that $5 any more wisely than they will – maybe a soda and candy. I know that a lot of people don’t feel this way, though, and are stuck in a position where they want to help, but don’t know how to without enabling.
Pondering this, I came across Blessing Bags on Facebook, which talked about things to put in Ziplock bags to keep in your car; such things included a bottle of water, bar of soap (wrap that a few times or it’s going to permeate everything else in the bag), granola bars, juice box, tissues, antibacterial wipes, bandages, packets of Tylenol, toothbrushes/toothpaste, etc. Hubbin got me like 40 handwarmers as a joke one Christmas, so I throw a couple in there, along with sanitary items for women.
I reached out to Rick Hughes, who runs Warm Streets, a local organization that helps the homeless. He was kind enough to give me a list of things that they frequently pack in backpacks; if you click here, you can download a list of them, and if you are blessed enough to fill backpacks, please consider doing so.
A note of encouragement would be helpful as well; something that makes them feel human. Regardless of your feelings towards the homeless, it’s important to keep in mind that many of them are veterans who served our country. Many of them are drug addicts, and here’s the thing – addicts still need food. They still get cold at night. They’re in a cycle that is extremely hard to break with little resources either out of bad families or because their families needed to walk away for their own sake. Many are mentally disabled and are caught up in a vicious cycle. And truly, we just don’t know their story. And really, do we need to know their story to know we need to help? Maybe you’ll accidentally help someone that doesn’t truly need it; but isn’t that worth the risk when the alternative is helping someone that really DOES need the help?
As we go into the holiday season, let us all remember to treat others kindly, and show the same mercy we desire to be shown to us.