Monday, December 14, 2009

Helping the Homeless, Part Two

Stewardship is often defined as everything we do
after we say, “I believe.”
Function: noun
1: the office, duties, and obligations of a steward
2: the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care
• We are God’s; ALL of our being belongs to God, our bodies, minds, and spirits
• All of our time, talents, and treasures are from God, for God, and the property of God
• We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.
— Winston Churchill
• No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave. — Calvin Coolidge

We are just passing through this world and are given and entrusted with Time, Talent, and Treasure to use for God’s glory and our good.

Last week my email box was flooded with emails about blizzards and frigid temperatures and people shoveling their cars out from under mountains of snow, and I couldn’t help but wonder about the homeless who live in their cars or worse in this type of weather. What does it say about us as a society that we spend hours upon hours shopping for gifts half of us don’t need or want, just because the media tells us to, while we let people sleep in cars and cardboard boxes and on city sidewalks?

Call me a Scrooge if you want—I don’t decorate or bake or go to Christmas parties, and this year I probably won’t even send out Christmas cards--but over 90,000 people are homeless in Los Angeles alone. One friend wrote of hundreds of people living in cardboard boxes along riverbanks in Colorado because the shelters are all full, in temperatures that dipped to 26 degrees below last week. These are families with men, women and children. Another mentioned seeing people sleeping in the streets in Philadelphia, a phenomenon that is repeated nightly in cities all across the nation.

Yesterday, I had my post all written, then accidentally deleted it. By then an hour and a half had passed, and I was hungry. So I went to my refrigerator and just stood there, staring at all the food in it and being grateful that I had so many choices when there are so many who have none. Being grateful that I was in a warm and dry home of my own while the wind blew and the rain poured. I can’t even begin to imagine the desolation the homeless must feel.

I then went to Mass, to give thanks for all that I’ve been given, put a check for the church’s food pantry in the collection plate, and although I was not hungry, agreed to go to lunch with a friend simply because I could.

I wanted to do so being aware of the blessing that was, to be able to walk into a restaurant and order whatever I wanted. We sat there for hours, talking and catching up on our lives. We would have closed the place down, had it been a different type of establishment. But for those few hours we were dry and warm and full, unlike so many others in our country, and for that I was grateful.

I want to ask you here to take a moment and think about the blessings you’ve been given, and find a way to share those blessings in this time of hardship for so many. Find out where your local homeless shelters are, make a pot of soup or a casserole or a few dozen extra Christmas cookies and drop them off on your way out shopping or to that Christmas party or concert. Take the money you would spend on a gift that a friend or relative doesn’t want or need, and donate it to your local food pantry. Drop a few dollars into the can outside the store and offer the Salvation Army bellringer a warm hello and a smile. Don’t avoid eye contact and pretend he or she isn’t there. Dig those old Christmas trees and ornaments you don’t use any more out of the attic or basement and donate them to someplace that could use a little Christmas cheer.

Go through your closets and collect your old coats and hats and gloves and blankets and drop them off at the nearest church or distribution center. They’re everywhere, if you just look. Take your children’s old books and toys to a community shelter for the kids there to read and play with. Take some time out of your frenzied Christmas preparations to volunteer at a community shelter and give the regular workers a break from the exhaustion that comes from serving others. Remember the reason for the season.

There are so many ways to help, just using what we already have on hand. And don’t forget to pray. Prayer costs nothing, but goes a long, long way.

Time, talent, and treasure. There is power in numbers. If everyone who can afford to did just a little, think of how much nicer a Christmas it could be for all of us.


Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi Li, another touching post. My son has two friends who are homeless. My parents have a small cottage which is in need of repairs and not being used. My son, Luke, literally snuck them in there without my parents permission. That couple has been living in there now for about a month. My parents found out of course, and they don't like that Luke went behind their backs, but as my mom said, "I can't let them freeze to death." They're very lucky. Many people in their situation don't have any home. This is the third time Luke has rescued friends of his who are homeless. (Today is Luke's birthday, by the way. I may have told you all ready. He turned 23 today!)

Unknown said...

Pretty cool for a 23 year old. :)

I "find" things and take them over to the food bank. Funny, how I live in such a nice area, but there's a food bank right down the road, down a cut off where no one has to see it.

It costs me nothing to talk vendors into giving me day old bread and surely someone out there can use it.