When I first heard about Claire's Hope for the Homeless Project, I thought it was brilliant. She'll humbly disregard the credit and tell you she found the idea on Pinterest, but if there's one thing I know about Pinterest, it's that there is a big difference between pinning ideas, and making ideas happen. Believe me, I would know. I have 110 DIY projects on my craft board, and I haven't done a single one (yet, guys, YET!!).
But I digress.
The concept of Hope for the Homeless is simple: keep bags of necessities in your car so that when you encounter a person in need, you have something tangible and thoughtful to give them.
When I worked downtown, I encountered homeless people on a daily basis, many of whom were mentally unstable. I didn't always feel safe talking to strangers during my six block walk from the parking garage to my office, and usually avoided direct eye contact. The exception to this was the woman in the floral dress with the grey tights, who sat outside Subway next to a giant cart full of belongings. She was there just about every day, and I occasionally gave her snacks from my packed lunch.
If I'm being honest, that's about the extent of my action with homeless people in Sacramento. I rarely give money, I rarely go out of my way to do anything. Part of the problem is---I rarely have something tangible to give.
So, let's change that. There are estimated to be 2,300 homeless people in Sacramento county. 2,300 homeless people! That my friends, is a problem. And while it's easy to point fingers at local government and whine and complain, our energy would most certainly be better spent elsewhere. Our energy would be better spent doing something.
How many times have you seen a homeless person standing along a freeway exit, or wandering around a parking lot, or standing outside a grocery store? How many times have you avoided eye contact while muttering, "Sorry, I don't have any cash." I've done it, a lot. Too often.
And I want to change that.
It's a small step, but my car is now stocked with bags of necessities to give to people in need, and if you're looking to spread some hope this holiday season (or any season), you are welcome to join me.
What's in the bag:
-Toothbrush/toothpaste -Bar of soap -Hand sanitizer -Protein bar -Bottled water -First Aid kit -List of Sacramento homeless shelters/resources -Card with John 3:16 written inside
I got everything at Target and probably spent $6 on each bag. I'm going to keep my car stocked with five bags at a time, three in the trunk and two in my glove box for easy reach.
Whether you live in Sacramento or not, chances are your hometown is full of people in need. While my heart aches for the people affected by hurricane Sandy, and the people of Haiti, and anyone else suffering from a tragedy, my heart also aches for the people right here in my city. There is hunger and homelessness and human trafficking and other devastating things happening right here, right now. Sometimes these problems seem too big to tackle. Where do I start? What can I do? Will I even make a difference?
And the answer is yes. You can make a difference. You will make a difference. To one person or ten people or a hundred people. You get to decide.
Today, let's start with hope for the homeless, and see where it takes us.