I have been getting dozens of questions, phone calls and emails about the homeless service, so many that I thought that I should probably address them here. Also, if you have further questions, the best way to ask is to comment in this post. I will answer questions in the post.
Q. What do you need?
A. The biggest need will be the homeless bags. These are ziplocked bags of travel sized toiletries, socks, first aid, food items, anything you think might be helpful on the streets. My bags typically include around 6 items such as: hotel toiletries, full size bar of soap, washcloth, pair of socks, apple or orange, peanut butter crackers, band-aids, earplugs, water bottle, hand sanitizer, instant oatmeal packets. Also, coats, blankets and cookies, though if you can, fresh fruit would be a wonderful, healthy addition. If you have other ideas, please let me know. Starbucks on 65th and Broadway is donating cups, lids and hot water for hot chocolate.
Q. Why are you just giving out cookies and hot chocolate, not a full meal?
A. I would love to be able to provide a full meal, but I just do not feel that I am prepared to organize that on Christmas Day in the limited time our family has to serve. We talked about it, but ultimately felt called to do something small. I honestly really struggle with that choice knowing that whatever we provide may be the only food the folks we are serving get all day. I am hoping that the contents of the bags will have some food items as well. In the future I would like to do more with Project 61, a group that serves delicious, hearty meals to homeless in the area. (By the way, they are always looking for help and their next event is December 29, see their facebook page for more info.)
There are so many ways to approach serving the homeless and needy, none of which are perfect. I know that I could have probably planned this better or done somthing more, but I just didn't know where to start. I know this approach may not be the best, but I believe it is a good start.
Q. How do I give you my donations?
A. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a pick up or drop off. Dropping items directly to my house would be the most convenient given the schedule I have with three kiddos, but if our paths cross or I am in your area I will be happy to do pick ups.
Q. What time are we meeting and where?
A. 11 am Cesar Chavez Park, Christmas Day
Q. I just can't make it work for us on Christmas, will you ever do anything like this again?
A. Count on it. My hope is to partner with Project 61 because I love their approach to homeless ministry. I don't know what that looks like yet, so stay tuned.
Q. What if it rains?
A. Bring an umbrella.Yup, this is rain or shine. Let's not let those crazy marathoners show us up, 'kay?
Q. What if there is no one in the park when we are there?
A. We will still meet at the park, divide up our donations and drive around the city to hand out the coats, blankets and food to people as we see them, so be prepared for that possibility.
Ultimately this is about doing something small to love and serve a group of people who are frequently ignored and unloved. It's a small gesture that won't solve the problem of homelessness, but I hope it will be the first of many opportunities to serve.