As we were driving down a street in our hometown, my granddaughter asked, “Why do those people have backpacks? They look sad and they must not have a car or they wouldn’t be walking.”
Answering, I replied, “Sweet Heart, they are homeless and there are so many people all over the world who are without a place to sleep at night, they don’t have heat, they don’t have a home, and they never know when their next meal is coming from.”
“Nana, was that man homeless who PaPa met outside the store and went inside and bought the man food?”
“Yes, he told us he was homeless and asked for food. As we watched him walk away it made me feel very sad. And I wondered what his life story would be.”
“Why doesn’t he get a job, and a car?”
“Brea, I’ve done some research on the many reasons people wind up being homeless and there are several. One is they have a mental illness and usually do not even know it. They just can’t seem to fit into a real job, or take responsibility to pay rent, utilities, and all the other expenses it would take to keep a household running.
Another reason is they were soldiers who fought for our country. They gave all, they used guns to protect themselves and to keep our country free. What they saw so many terrible situations that when they came home they were suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They were normal when they joined the military and have come back home unable to function unless someone insist they get help.
Then there are the people who are on drugs. Many of these people also have other types of disorders and are self-medicating themselves to feel normal. Often they get addicted and that leads to them committing crimes to keep up their drug addiction. Sometimes they are caught and go to jail. There are places for them to get help. They are called Rehabilitation Facilities.
In big cities, they are providing shelter for hundreds of people during this cold weather. I’m thankful for that but I wish there was something else we could do. I learned a lot when I volunteered at a homeless shelter. Everyone there had hit hard times for one reason or another and we tried to help them get clothes, and a job, and we provided transportation for them to get to that job.
You know sweet heart, there is one thing I did when your dad and your aunt were young. We would often see a Christmas Tree that not only had decorations but tags which had a child’s first name, age, and a list of what they wanted. Also many schools have children they will only tell you their age and what they need due to privacy rules, but there are many ways to help. I try to always have dollars in my purse because I can’t pass a Salvation Army person ringing a bell to collect money.
When I was at the shelter, I became more aware of the people walking down the highways. I started making sacks full of food and I would drive ahead of them and get out and leave the sack. I wanted to be safe and I hoped they found the bag and opened it. I took a permanent marker and wrote in large letters: FOOD.
“Nana, when Brit worked at the Community Thanksgiving Dinner, she helped with the children because she had her babies with her and couldn’t help with the food! So she did help and I am proud of her.”
“Yes, my love, it took many people to put that meal together. It’s unbelievable how many people they feed every year.
“Nana, we can pray for all the homeless children, and all the people who may be cold, hungry, and have no place to sleep.”
“Brea, every night when we pray do you remember that we thank God we have food, clothes, a home, and a warm place to be comfortable? So many times we see toys and many items in stores and we feel to tempted to buy things we do not need. If every family in our hometown would give up one of the gifts they would buy for themselves and use that money to buy for a child who may not have anything for Christmas, that would be wonderful! How do you feel about getting a name or two from a Christmas tree to help a child this year?”
“Yeah! I would love to help someone! Maybe it would be something they need and it would bring a smile to their face.”
“Hopefully, that is true. But always remember that sometimes something just as simple as a smile, and a greeting also brings joy to those around you.”
P.S. On my blog site I am featuring a guest. She has just adopted a teenager and her story is very touching. I hope you will read it.