12 Ways to Maintain the Christmas Spirit AFTER Christmas (#3)

Over the holiday season, a few bloggers and I discussed how easily people slip into the “giving” spirit when mid-November rolls around. And then *poof* Just like that, people tend to slip right out of it when January appears. It got me thinking. How can we maintain this energy year-round?

Initially, I’d planned to “experiment” with different ways and then write this at the end of the year. But I figured some people might want to try with me, so instead, I’ll update and re-blog the post every four weeks.

three-2032511_1280This next idea was a combination of a failed attempt to volunteer at a food pantry and something I’d seen other people do on social media. In February, I thought I was going to hand out food with United Community Outreach Ministry (UCOM). Instead, the director asked me to clean the toiletry section for an hour and a half. Although I saw the indirect benefit of helping her because she probably didn’t have time, I couldn’t see myself continuing to do this for three more weeks.

“I could do this myself, in my own way, I thought.”

That’s just what I did. The third thing I did was pass out goodie bags to transient people (March). I packed four 1-gallon Ziplock bags with deodorant, wipes, Vaseline, fresh fruit, granola bars, water, and five $1 bills. The first week, I started with the guy I see sleeping under I95. He mumbled something to me that I didn’t quite understand. The second week, I traveled downtown to where I know a group of the same population hangs out. Before I could make it there, a guy stopped me.

img_3054“Can I have that orange?” he asked

I gave him the entire bag. He seemed genuinely pleased, and even more excited when I told him there was money in there.

The third week, I was battling allergies and busy with book stuff, so Dwight gave a bag to an elderly gentleman with a cane.

I had planned to hand out the final bag on my way to Gainesville. For the past two years, I’ve noticed a small population of men who alternate holding a sign right at the Baldwin exit off I10. This time I tracked a guy as he crossed the street to nearby trees. I parked my car, walked over to the men who were seated around a makeshift living area, and handed the bag to the bearded man nearest the fence that separated us.

“God Bless you hun.” He said it twice.

“You too luv,” I replied.

With this one, I’ve learned that the homeless population is invisible, until you open your eyes and look for them. Then, they’re right in front of your face, begging to be seen.

Let me know what you think about this one. Do you think you could pack a goodie bag for the transient population in your city? Is that demographic high where you live?

Read about the first two ways here.

 

 

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41 thoughts on “12 Ways to Maintain the Christmas Spirit AFTER Christmas (#3)

  1. I have to admit, that for a long time I didn’t understand the ‘concept’ of homeless people in our country. Why didn’t they just go to city hall, submitted themselves to the welfare system: get a rental house, monthly paycheck and other social support.
    Now I understand it’s not just about for example losing your job, but often mental issues are part of the ‘problem’ too. Last year I watch a documentary about homeless people and there are even people who freely choose to stay homeless. That was eye-opening.
    I assume in a country as large as the USA, more people are homeless not by free choice and therefor I believe your initiative is heartwarming. At the same time, I think…unfortunately it won’t solve the problem. So, I am very worried for my neighbors in your home-country, now that Trump’s latest change (insurance) passed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think there is a mixture of the types of people, but yes, for the most part many have a mental illness. I can’t remember specifically, but something political happened in the 80s forcing mental institutions to close, and consequently, pushing people into the street, thus the population increased. Yes, I’m not trying to solve the homeless population problem, necessarily, but just trying to do my part in whoever I come across.

      What I have to say about President Trump will not fit in this space :-/

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never been homeless, so I don’t understand the issues surrounding it in a meaningful way. I did have an experience that hit home with me, though. When my niece and nephew were young, their parents took them to a local park in Manhattan (Tompkins Square Park). There was always a group of homeless men near the entrance, and as it turned out, they were very protective of all the children who regularly played in the park. I was visiting just after my nephew was born. I had my niece, just under two, and my sister-in-law and Dad were a distance behind me with the baby. When we entered the park, the homeless men were clearly agitated. My sister-in-law saw what was going on and ran up, reassuring these men I was okay, and my niece was safe with me. I was touched that these men, who had so very little, were watching out for the children and would go after anyone they suspected would harm one of them. Neither Ann nor I got the sense they would have hurt me, but they would have watched me until they knew my intentions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is a beautiful story Belinda. Thanks for sharing it. I do think we’ve not only become desensitized concerning the homeless, but also fearful. This is a great example of why (sometimes) there’s no need to be.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I purchased 10 disposable ponchos for my daughter’s Shakespeare festival last week, because the forecast said rain, rain, rain. Well the meteorologists got it wrong, again, but now I know what to do with the ponchos. They will be the basis of my version of your experiment. Thanks for the lovely idea Kathy!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. LOL, I wouldn’t reach everyone, but maybe a few. I will suggest it for a service project. We did something similar where we collected toiletries for SOME (So Others May Eat) to distribute with the free meals.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a good idea. One of my friends was trying to get me into this. She called them “blessing bags” (I am on the fence on the religious language). My beef with it was that it felt like a disciplinary mechanism: it had a bunch of food and sanitary products, but no money in them. The message was that she wanted to help but felt the transient population would use the cash to buy drugs. The help covered up a deeper criminalization. I like that you included cash here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Blessing bags 🙂 (If I say anything more about that I’ll be slipping into judgmental territory, so I’ll leave that part alone lol)

      But, yes…a couple of years ago, I decided it didn’t matter what they did with the money. It’s like because we hand someone money, then all of a sudden we have moral control over what they do with it. Either give, or don’t, but I think we need to stop acting as if we’re somebody’s mama handing out allowance. What those people do with a dollar is between them, the dollar and whatever higher power they believe in smh

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly! I also hate how people sit there and play holier than thou when it comes to people doing drugs and drinking alcohol. Have you ever seen that meme that gives the real reason Americans don’t give money to the homeless population? It says:

        There are 2 reasons I don’t give money to the homeless…

        1). They use it for drugs and alcohol
        2). I need it for drugs and alcohol

        lmao

        Liked by 1 person

  5. High five, Kathy! I appreciate you experimenting with ways to maintain the Christmas spirit year-round. I don’t own a car, so I think that foot traffic and taking public transportation keeps me in regular contact with some folks who are in need. After many years of sharing dollar bills here and there, when I became unemployed, I switched to volunteering with some social service organizations. The goodie bag idea is a good one. A book club I belong to has adopted a women’s shelter and meeting residents and staff has educated us about what people really need.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I applaud you for doing it! Good for you !
    Me? I actually served food to the homeless one time, a long time ago. It was a great idea and I am happy I did it. In the moment though, it was a little uncomfortable each person staring at me before walking away. No sure why or what they were thinking, but it was uncomfortable. Years later, my family and I were now homeless. It was my senior year in high school, too. Looking back, I understand my thoughts and feelings were all over the place. Maybe that was them as well? No sure. Walking up to a perfect stranger who may be homeless ( an assumption on my part) , well not sure I would do it. What if I was wrong? What if I was right? What if they didn’t accept my act of kindness? A lot of “if’s” go through my mind. Then, safety jumps the thought line….
    Now, I think I would help pack care package boxes at a warehouse again. It was truly eye opening and fulfilling at the same time. Safety was there, too. 😉
    Again, high five my friend!

    Like

  7. I usually don’t run upon homeless people when I make up sandwiches or goodie bags and go looking for them, but I applaud your efforts to see rather than look away and try to do something to help. I always keep some small bills and toiletry items in my purse so I have stuff to give away if I see a person with a sign on a highway exit or something. I have filled up someone’s gas tank before, when I saw her counting out ones and then stopping the pump at $4 (not even 2 gallons). I also buy groceries and toiletries for the Little Free Pantry in our town–it’s like a 24-7 mini food bank, where folks can grab a few quick items if the money ran out before the month did. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing that Joan. I think it’s sends a similar message to begin to be a little more conscious about people in the world, noticing when and where we might be able to lend a hand. I do think keeping a few extra dollars might also be something I can begin doing because it’ll help to have it ready just in case.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh Kathy, it was so good. We decided to do a gift session today, because there were a few women who wanted to join the group (which is 4 sessions) and weren’t able to make that time. So I plan to launch the first online group session in 2 weeks, either next Wed or Thurs night. So blessed – we had a safe and sacred circle of women. Thank you for asking, Kathy! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Well, by coincidence there are some bags filled with goodies sitting on the table that my daughter Sarah and I will give out to the homeless. Sarah went to Flagler and she’s been doing this for years. But you ‘re right, they’re invisible but when you start to notice, there everywhere… jc

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Love this! I try to make eye contact when I’m at the stop light and someone is standing there with a sign so it’s not that weird, pretending I don’t see you kind of thing. Not sure if that makes any difference to them at all, but I want them to feel seen.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Kathy, I commend you for your efforts in keeping up the Christmas Spirit of giving all year round.
    For those who use public transport as I do, opportunities abound to reach out to others who have fallen on hard times. Most times, I meet such individuals while waiting for the bus. Their stories enrich my life.

    Liked by 2 people

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