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RandiLynnMrvos



October 1, 2019


                                                                                                                                                                                       Photo: Matt Collamer

Surprisingly audacious reflections of a humble writer

GIVING AND RECEIVING  

One day in French class, a classmate changed the way I looked at the homeless.  She told me about her brother who works for a Christian ministry in Oregon and that he keeps bags of comfort items for the homeless in his car.  Whenever he spots someone in need, he hands out one of the bags.

This gesture touched me and got me thinking.  I could do this.  I should do this.

So, I put a few things in a paper bag:
toothbrush and toothpaste
bars soap
granola bars
a package of socks

A week later on the day of French class, I put the bag in my car.  Since our class is held in a section of downtown Lexington, Kentucky close to where many homeless people live, there was a good possibility I'd be able to give the bag away.

But on this particular day, the drive home after class had to be rerouted due to construction.  So, I drove through another part of town closer to the campus of the University of Kentucky.

I wondered if this new route would lead me to someone who could use the comfort items.  I wondered what the interaction would be like.  This was scary for me because I didn't know what to expect.

Before hashing it over too much, I spotted a middle-aged man standing on the sidewalk. Disheveled.  Holding a sign.

Being too nervous, I didn't read the sign.  I just opened my car window and held out the bag. 

He jogged up to my car.

He gently took it and said, "Thank you, sweetheart."

After peering inside, he made the universal hand sign for love.

                                                                                     Photo: Steve Knutson 
Then the unexpected happened.  He gave me a little piece of his heart.  He told me he loved me.  It was genuine and sincere.  It caught me off guard.  Our eyes met briefly and the words flowed off my tongue.  I told him I loved him, too.

This encounter with a homeless person would not be my last.

Just a few weeks later while on vacation in Montreal with my family, I noticed a homeless man sitting on the pavement a block away from our hotel.  He stared blankly, holding out a cup for money.  On the last day of vacation, the weather was rainy and cold with temperatures in the mid-40s.  And there sat the homeless man again, as if he had never moved.  When we passed in front of him my daughter suggested we give him our umbrella.  I was amazed and so proud of her.  I turned back and offered him the umbrella.  He hesitated, seeming unsure if this was for real.  Then I said, "pour vous."  He reached out, took the handle and smiled. 

Not long after we returned to the States, I spotted a man standing in a median at our local shopping center.  I slowed down, not knowing if the drivers behind me would get impatient and honk (thankfully they didn't), lowered my window, and said to the man, "I hope you can use these." Again, I was greeted with a heartfelt thank you.

And recently again near the grocery store, I noticed a woman on crutches who had an amputated leg.  She held a sign and hoped drivers would stop.  I circled around, drove up to her, and handed her a bag that I had in the car.  She said, "Oh, thank you.  What's in the bag?"  I said, "Here are some toiletries."  She replied, "You read my sign.  That's what I needed."  But the funny thing was, I had not read her sign.  My comfort bag had already been stuffed with toiletries.

Having that conversation in French class about supporting the needy made a big impact on me.  In the past, I never gave much thought to the homeless.  Now, I want to be more helpful, so whenever I go grocery shopping, I pick up a few snacks and toiletries for the homeless.  Putting together canned food and some necessities costs very little.  And for me, it's the right thing to do.

It's easy to put together a bag for the homeless.  Here are more items that they can use:
warm gloves
hair brush
deodorant
hand lotion
fruit cups
bottles of juice
Band-Aids
cans of tuna with pull tabs
plastic forks
nail clippers
Kleenex
hand wipes
sunscreen
Chapstick
body wash

"Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are.” –  Harold S. Kushner

And here's an article about making eye contact with the homeless:
 https://invisiblepeople.tv/making-eye-contact-with-homeless-people-is-important/
À la prochaine! 
If you like, please leave a comment at: Rlmrvos@gmail.com