hope for the homeless.

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.

a typical morning looking for lice.

"I think my scalp is bleeding." Brett walked into the kitchen and I looked up at him in confusion, pausing between bites of cereal.

"Huh?"

"I just did my hair and saw a bunch of red spots on my scalp. When I touched them, I had blood on my fingers!"

I placed my bowl of cereal on the coffee table, and told Brett to sit down so I could examine his head. Sure enough, there were little red spots on the top of his scalp. It looked like dried blood.

"Does it hurt?" I asked.

"No, it doesn't hurt at all. What do you think it is?"

"Hang on," I said, as I grabbed my iPhone. I immediately started googling bloody scalp, bloody hair, bloody head, etc. Naturally, everything from skin cancer to Celiac Disease to Hemophilia popped up as a result, including the grossest of all: LICE.

"Oh. My. Gosh. Do you have LICE? Are those bite marks?!" I asked in horror.

"No way! My head doesn't itch!" he protested.

"Babe....you know I love you....but there is no way I am going to comb lice out of your hair. I just.....can't."

My arms were getting itchy just talking about it.

We stared at each other.

"Maybe you should call your mom," I said. Brett's mom used to be a nurse, so she's usually the first person we call when we have a health concern. We told her about the blood spots on Brett's scalp, and asked if it could be lice. She seemed doubtful, but instructed me to look though his hair again to see if I could spot any eggs. Gross. I took a deep breath and started combing through Brett's hair with my fingers.

"Well....do you see anything?!" Brett was on the edge of his seat, literally.

"I don't see any eggs.....wait a minute....what is THAT?" I squinted my eyes, unsure of what I was looking at.

"Babe....I just found a blue spot too!"

"Blue?!!"

Seriously, WHAT IS THAT? Is it mold? Can people grow mold in their hair??? First lice and now this? I kept my thoughts to myself and kept combing through his hair looking for bugs and other signs of mildew.

A few seconds later, I came across another section of Brett's head that was covered with green and yellow spots. I immediately started laughing as I realized what it was.

"That's not blood on your head, it's leftover COLOR! From the color run!"

Brett still looked a bit confused, but also extremely relieved that he didn't have lice.

Lesson learned for next year: wash hair at least eight times after the color run before assuming you have a lice and mold infestation growing on top of your head.

the color run Sacramento

p.s. In case you were wondering, I walked the whole thing. Thanks for reassuring me that it's okay to not love running.