Sunday, April 17, 2016

Helping the Homeless Directly

A few months ago when we went through an especially cold spell here in the Las Vegas valley, for 2 or 3 days, I carried some things in my car in case I spotted a homeless person. At that point, I'd gathered a few lightweight but sturdy cloth/canvas/whatever bags, somewhat like duffel bags. They had accumulated in here over the years and I no longer had a need for them and these were ones that did not sell at the previous yard sale.

In each of the bags, I tossed one of our charity crafter hats/caps, scarves, and fingerless gloves. I added some easy-open, non-perishable foods like small cans of beans, a pouch or two of tuna or salmon, even a candy bar, and things like that. It wasn't much. I don't have much. But I watched for specials and deals and also hit the 99-cent store. What I tossed in there didn't even amount to $10 per each of the 3 bags. I think I even tossed in some plastic forks and spoons, pocket packs of tissues, and some things like that. Whatever I found around here.

The first fellow I noticed and pulled up to surprised me by his reaction. He got tears in his eyes. That floored me. He said he had just thrown away his backpack and didn't even have a bag to carry a bottle or two of water in. The other two bags got similar reactions. Then it was over and I moved on in my life.

This morning, in our Neighborhood Wal-Mart Grocery Store parking lot, I ran into a middle aged woman from Central America rolling all her earthly possessions in a folding shopping cart. We talked for a few minutes about the plastic canvas cross I gave her, and about life and life on the streets. I was in a hurry to get home, but she did tell me how to reach her through a woman who has a business stall in a nearby indoor weekend swap meet location.

At home, I remembered she said she probably needed to throw away this Styrofoam container that she was carrying figuring she could protect food in that but that she never had any food to put in it. And then I remembered my winter efforts.

So I'm going to try to remember to put one of my sturdy plastic crates in my car and begin to keep it loaded with plastic grocery bags with some non-perishables like those I gave to the homeless months ago. It won't be much for sure. But whatever it is, hopefully it will carry someone for a few days. Sometimes we give them money, even if it's just a buck or two, and they have no place that will let them inside to buy something with that cash. And the plastic bag can be used afterwards for trash or whatever, until it bites the dust.

Sweet Lord Jesus, thank you for placing that woman on my life's path this morning. It gave me the idea of a way to help, in such a small way, I agree, but if that small effort will help, guide my choices and point out those who need what little I will have on hand. I know it will take me a few days to gather, but I can begin tomorrow by putting the crate in my trunk.

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