Today is December 21st, the first day of winter. It’s also National Homeless Person’s Memorial Day. I understand this might seem like a heavy subject to discuss during the holiday season. But I am convinced that learning about people in different circumstances not only shows us ways we can help someone in need, but also gives us a different perspective that is so deeply needed during the holiday season.
I wanted to share some quick statistics that I found absolutely shocking. Then I want to talk about one of my pen-pals who is making a difference.
The statistics I’m sharing are from The National Coalition for the Homeless.
What became clear in reading the statistics is that when faced with poverty, the choice between housing, food, and other basic needs ceases to be optional.
That is why I found this story so inspiring. My pen-pal, Sherry, was moved by the need of people in her area. This is the story she shared with me:
“[I’m] tired of passing by homeless and hungry signs. As a Christian woman with plenty, I was convicted every time I passed someone holding a sign that said they were hungry. In this small way, we can touch their lives and show that someone cares for them.
“You just never know the full effect of the power of kindness.
“A few weeks ago, I made some brown bag lunches and put them in my car in case I saw someone holding a 'hungry' sign on the road. Yesterday on my way to work I was stopped at the light on Fairview and saw a thin man holding a sign that said homeless and hungry, in the cold and rain. I gave him all the lunches I had with me. He was appreciative and said, ‘God bless you.’ I was able to look him in the eyes and say the same back to him… I pray that man felt that he was valuable. I had written, “you are valuable,” on both bags.
“[I’m] preparing for future encounters.”
What touched me was Sherry’s deep desire to reach the person she saw. The need is indeed great, and there are many ways we can make a difference. Each of us must ultimately decide what we will do. But we must never lose our compassion, and we must never forget that we cannot fully know someone’s struggle. This is the pitfall of trying to “fix” someone else.
This season, as we celebrate with gifts and we enjoy the blessings bestowed to us, let us not forget our neighbors. And let us not forget the great power of simple, pure kindness. That is a gift money cannot buy and it cannot fit under a tree. But it is lavish, extravagant and even luxurious. And we can give of it daily to those around us.