Giving from your heart and your head

I live right in the middle of my little downtown, in an old hotel. There is an alley and a parking lot behind us. There have always been men going through the trash, picking out cans and what not to sell. I drop my bottles and cans off at the corner of my building, just so that every day, one person can feel that someone values them enough to not make them dig thru trash.

Last week, I saw a mother woth two little chldren digging through the trash. While it is not freezing here, it is wet and cold and damp. The kids had on flip flops and wore layers of over sized sweatshirts, so I hardly think that this was just a fun adventure they were having.

So now, as I clean out my closets or see deeply discounted jackets on sale, I put one thing in a plastic market bag and leave it downstairs. I have more than enough and cannot help but think that someone in need will find my one or two little bags and feel as if someone, somewhere cares. A friend regularly will find shoes at garage sales and buys them, just to drop them off.
It’s not much. It’s almost nothing.

But if you want to give to the homeless, think about it.
Think about giving them a roll of quarters instead of a twenty. They can go to the laundrette or take the bus.
Think about leaving socks in a plastic bag.
If you want to give to the homeless, think about how they are living…no fridge, no way to store stuff or lug it around. Sometimes we are well meaning but miss the point. Give single serving meals with pop top lids or jello or yogurt. Don’t overload them with fresh fruit or bags of McDonald’s food because it will just make them sick.

Work at a soup kitchen and LOOK into their faces when you serve them, Give them the dignity of not being invisible.

You don’t have to be rich to help. You do need to be mindful of their needs. Contact your local school and talk to a teacher. They are well aware of who is in need. For years, I had local dentists donate toothbrushes and little complimentary toothpaste to my classroom. The first day of every month, everyone got a new tooth brush. Could they have one for their brudder? You bet! That was one way I gave.  I kept a box of outgrown socks so that if a child came to school with no socks or wet socks, they could just go over and help themselves. Nothing gets in the way of your learning like wet and cold little feet. When my son would outgrown his jackets, I would hang it on the back of a needy boy’s chair. I regularly would purchase underpants for my class when I bought underpants for my own children. Kept then in a box in the closet and they were available to the children who needed them.

If you are a coupon-er, you might take all the excess personal needs items to a shelter, mental health center or a local AA/NA meeting place. I guarantee they will only take what they need.

When you drive around town or on the highways that cut through your town, take a look around. Who is living under the bushes? On the railroad tracks? Over by an highway exit?

You will gain so much more than you give.

Bring joy to your heart, my friends!

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