I have been thinking about participating in Thanksgiving a little differently this year. When I am driving downtown, especially at this time of year when it’s getting cold, I notice homeless men standing on the corners begging for money. When I drive near the Gateway, where the homeless shelter is, I see them gathered outside the building. I have heard of people inviting a homeless person to dinner or giving them money, but I’m just not sure how comfortable I am doing either of those things. Besides, how do if I know if a homeless person is really homeless? They may make more in a day than I do in a week at my job. What can I do to help others and still remain safe?
Thanks for your help.
Wanting to help
Years ago, when I was worried about giving money to someone who was not really homeless, they told me not to worry. I was told that if the person was homeless, that I had truly helped, and if they were not homeless, I had still experienced positive things in my soul. I have always remembered that.
The important thing is that we do good things because we are good and want to help someone else. If we are honest in what we do, we are rewarded, no matter how un-truthful the other person is.
With that said, I have been thinking a lot about your question this week. Naturally, our hearts turn to the homeless this time of year when “want” seems even more noticeable because of what we are celebrating and who we are thinking about. And so I have created below a short list of things you can do that may be a bit less fearful for you—and one such opportunity that may not, but then again, true growth comes from reaching out when it’s difficult.
1. A few years ago, some friends and I cooked up some Thanksgiving fare, got in a van, drove downtown, and distributed the food on paper plates to the homeless we saw as we drove up and down the streets.
2. Another year, when I was much younger, I was a part of a youth group who put together sack lunches and distributed them to the homeless outside the homeless shelter.
3. Be a part of serving for the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake. Winter coats are in short supply this year. Bring along an extra coat when you come to serve.
4. Help another SLCC student who is struggling to eat. Take them out to dinner, or provide them with a meal at your place.
5. Contribute cans or packaged foods wherever you feel directed.
6. Help the Food Bank. Though volunteers have already filled up slots until January, the Food Bank is still in need of food and money to keep the Food Bank full.
7. Help in the Salvation Army’s Soup Kitchen.
8. Speak with a homeless person wherever you seen them– on the street, inside a grocery store, at the bus station. Something magical happens when we interact with another human being and we show them our genuine interest and concern. Make a point of meeting someone new this Thanksgiving.