Monday, December 29, 2008

Helping Those Less Fortunate

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

One of the holiday activities of years past that most affected our children was taking them to feed the homeless during Christmas week. It was cold and damp. The floor where the homeless people had to sleep was cold and hard, even with the thin mats to insulate them. There did not appear to be any heat.

When we arrived, the line of people waiting to get in for a meal was around the whole building. There was security to watch us go in, yet I soon learned it seemed unnecessary. What we saw there surprised us all. A group of 400 plus men and women, all waiting in line quietly, and then taking their plates with joy. Not just for their own full stomachs. They were wishing US a Happy New Year. Their pleasure in receiving a warm meal and a safe place to sleep was just as joyous as ours would have been to stay at the Ritz Carlton. To them, their needs were met for this one night, and that was their goal.

Yesterday I wrote a bit about goals, actually New Year's Resolutions, which are basically goals in with a fancy name. That doesn't often give them more priority, though. Thinking about my Resolutions and about the times we have gone to feed the homeless, I realized how different their goals would be, if written on paper. I can envision:

The Short Term Goal List:

Find the energy to look for daily work

Get a warm coat from Salvation Army

Save enough of daily laboring income to take the bus back to the homeless center to sleep and eat.

The Long Term List:

Get a job, any regular job

Find a place to live that is within walking distance of a bus stop

Do you see a Wii, Hollister jeans or Gucci handbags on this list? No, you don't even see health insurance or dental care there, because most homeless Americans cannot even dream of having these luxuries. If you do, count yourself among the lucky. Count your blessings and do something--anything--to help.

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