I asked my daughter towards the end of the school year, to think about a volunteer project that we could do together. It wasn’t hard for her. She immediately said she wanted to feed the homeless and she wanted to hand out 50 care bags.
50? On my budget? Well I only had one thing to do. Make it happen!
I reached out to friends via social media and praise God some were kind enough to donate food, money, and gift cards to our cause.
We had a plan to go to the people and hand out the bags, but spring/early summer 2015 in Texas came with a lot of rain. We decided to grab a few bags every time we ran errands to share with the homeless we encountered in our community.
I was given suggestions on items to include: peanuts, apple sauce or fruit cups, Vienna sausages, peanut butter crackers, soft breakfast bars, hand wipes, water, napkins, and plastic ware. Soft food items are essential because many homeless people have little to no teeth.
Below is one of the care bags. We used Ziploc bags and Lauren wrote, “Love Lauren” on the them so the recipients would be reminded that someone loves them and would be praying for them. Sorry, the photographer (me) isn’t the best!
Handing out the bags came with joy and sadness. Joy because we knew we helped people and made sure they had something to eat if only for one meal. Sadness because we knew it may have been their only meal for that day. As the summer grew hotter, we froze water bottles because the temperature gets up to 100 in Texas! That way, they would have something cold to drink.
One experience will forever be etched in my brain. We gave a bag to a man who was so appreciative. He explained that he had stood at a corner for what was possibly two hours and nothing. I handed him a bag and said, “God bless you.” He extended his hand and then said, “My name is Dan. That way when you pray for me tonight, you can call out my name.”
As we pulled off, I was so convicted. Why had I not taken the time to ask for his name? Why didn’t I extend my hand first? Did I even care that he had a name?
I said to Lauren, “moving forward, we will ask for names and pray for those who receive the care bags!” At times, I would forget, but she would remind me to get the names because we had to pray.
I can only think of one other incident when I asked for the name of a homeless person I helped. His name was Daryl and over the years, I’ve seen him around town. Each update has gotten better. I can only hope and pray this to be true for Dan.
Please, the next time you feel moved to help someone, take a moment to look them in the eye, offer a smile, ask for their name, and offer them some words of encouragement. Your friendly face and kind words may be the only hope he/she has to live on.
I pray that Lauren and I were able to do just that with our summer mission!
Follow Momcapade on Twitter and Instagram @momcapade