A few nights ago I saw a sight I hadn’t seen since living in Vancouver. I saw a young man walking in between cars parked at a stop light along one of our cities busiest roads. He was rugged, wearing clothes that were old and tattered. His beard was long and almost ready for dreadlocks. He had a cardboard sign that he held in front of him as he walked stating his homeless situation.
I quickly started to look for something, anything I could give him. Nothing. I was panicked, as I was sure the light would turn green and I would miss my chance. Finally I found three quarters. I rolled down my window and yelled for him to come. As I bashfully gave him my measely seventy five cents he said; “Thank you so much. Everyone has ignored me all day”. It was six at night. All day? All I could think of saying in response was; “Well, I noticed you. God bless”.
Do you ever wish you could go back and say something a little better? It just all happened so fast. As I drove away I said a prayer for him and decided that I needed to get an emergency bag in my van.
What’s that you ask? I read in “The Missional Mom” by Helen Lee the idea of having a zip lock bag filled with: a warm pair of socks, granola bars, snacks gift certificates to places that serve coffee, toiletries, etc and a note with a prayer or sentiment. The idea is to have the bag in the vehicle so that when your path crosses with someone such as the young man I saw, you have something truly valuable ready to give them. Beats scrounging around for quarters.
I went home with the best of intentions to get that ready…. and then I forgot.
The next morning, after dropping off my son at school, I was at the gas station and what did I see? Another homeless man out early with his shopping cart looking for pop cans in the garbages. Why didn’t I pack that bag? This time my search for something to give him came out empty. By the time I looked up, he was gone.
You may wonder why the effort? Is it really worth going through all that thought just for a random person who may not even be in need? Or what if they’re just collecting money to buy alcohol? That’s why I like the zip lock bag. It’s practical, shows someone actually put thought into pre-planning meeting up with someone in need, and hopefully the thought and the written encouragement inside gives them something they may have not experienced in a long time….. hope.
And hope is something you can live off of for awhile when you haven’t had any.
Here’s something YOUR FAMILY can do together!
– take a trip to the grocery store to buy: large freezer bags, water, juice, socks, granola bars, anything else that would help (eg: winter: gloves, hats)
– lay out all the items and stuff the bags with your kids.
– write notes of encouragement or draw pictures and include
– put the bags in your vehicle ready to give a away!