We arrived at the park at 10:30 am and were happy to see that there was a sweet family also out serving. The mother said to us that she always drove by, saw the homeless in the park and that last night decided to just go home and make tamales with her family to bring over this morning. If you know anything about making tamales, you know that one does not "just go home and make tamales". It is hard work! The fact that she and her family carved out time on Christmas Eve to make such a labor intensive gift for strangers really touched me.
My friend Jaime, 6 month old baby strapped in the carrier on her chest, jumped right in there with them, singing with her new friends.
Sherrie, from church came with her husband, and was able to have nice conversations with the homeless men who had gathered around us, getting to know them a little bit.
On Facebook I was connected with, Deborah, a woman from our church whom I had never met before. Her house was on the way to the park, so we decided to carpool all together. She was such a huge help and it was fun to meet her and serve alongside her.
Friends I hadn't seen in months, some in years, came out with their families, large bags of blankets and coats in tow.
There were about 6 kids out there (including my own), all helping, chatting with the men who had gathered around. The girls made peanut butter and bagel sandwiches, handing them over with dimpled grins to whomever would take them.
At one point my son and a couple other boys were tossing around a football. I noticed a young homeless man standing by sort of wistfully watching them play. He couldn't have been more than 20. I walked up to him and said, "Do you want to play?"
Surprised, he looked at me, shook his head and said, "Oh, no, I couldn't"
"Sure you could! They brought the football to toss around with anyone who wanted to. You look like you want to."
The man grinned, looked at me again, I motioned for him to go and he was off, running down towards the kids.
Later, I asked my son if the man seemed to have fun tossing the football. Tyler's eyes lit up as he told me how good the guy was. "Mom, he could throw the football so far! I think he could even be famous! It was really fun!"
Ours wasn't the only group out at the park giving out food and treats on Christmas Day. It was encouraging to see that many other people wanted to bless the homeless that day. I do love that the holiday season brings out the generous spirit in all of us.
Now that the holidays are over, the real question is will we choose to bless the homeless and needy all year long?