Homeless People Need Socks

“Care Alliance is asking for help to keep homeless men and women in clean, dry socks this winter. Nurse Donna Kelly takes the socks to the homeless people she cares for living on the streets, in campsites and in shelters.”

Would it surprise you to hear that homeless people could be better served this Christmas (and any time really) by a new, clean pair of socks then by any item of food or monetary offering you might give them while passing them by on the street?

Notice I said better served. This gift may not immediately send a rush of excitement down the spine of an individual looking to indulge his or her addictions but, as any individual with social work experience will tell you, this is a gift they really need. Especially in the cold winter months when frost bite is possible. They will not throw this one away or use it for ill.

Living in New York, I feel increasingly convicted that I should help homeless people when I can. Walking up 7th Avenue in Park Slope, I pass four or five “regulars”- men who stand daily outside a few select grocery stores asking for money. While I would and will never give them money since I feel this is not showing them any genuine love as they will likely only be using it to abuse their health, I do want to give them something. But what?

I thought offering to buy them food was the answer but I have done that enough times now to feel this too is not the appropriate action. Why? Because they are usually not thankful for the food offered to them, even if it is exactly what they said they wanted. For example, I bought a man some fried chicken last week at his request. When I brought it to him, he looked at it with disgust and said, “what is that?” I didn’t want to look as I walked away, fearful he had probably immediately thrown it away. As my friend Elizabeth said to me Sunday, a woman experienced in social work, “most of these people are really not in as much need as they say. If they really were going hungry, they’d eat anything given to them no questions asked. If they’re acting ungrateful, it means they’re not really needy.” In her experience, starving people will literally eat PB&J happily every day. They will be thankful for whatever is put before them.

Now, the moral of this post is not to disparage homeless people. As I thought about that man’s response to my offering of fried chicken, I thought about myself and my response to the gifts God lavishly showers upon me daily. Many of them I either fail to see or look on with a selfish, ungrateful heart, wondering why He couldn’t have given me more. The reality is I am so incredibly spoiled and have no realization of what real need is. I am no better, no more righteous than that homeless man, but yet I feel immediately angered by his response. Alas…pride.

To summarize, I encourage you to buy a pack of socks at Target or Walmart, carry it around with you and when you see a homeless person, give him or her a pair.
You could even make up a little care package. Remind yourself that they really need this gift. Need. Don’t worry if he or she is happy with your gift or not. Don’t be disheartened if there is little or no thanks given. Give it to them anyways. If it helps, liken yourselves to the wretched state in which these people find themselves in and see how their life style is likely symbolic of your heart before God. Remember that God is watching you and it is pleasing to Him to see us give. Do not do it for human accolades. Do it for Him and for His glory and you can not go wrong!

Read the rest of the Cleveland.com article here.

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9 Responses to Homeless People Need Socks

  1. Grace says:

    Great idea, Susanna! But alas, there are no homeless people in Ringgold..So I do not think I will be able to participate:)

  2. Rick says:

    Grace, we’ll bring you a homeless person for Christmas. =)

  3. Mrs. Miller says:

    Much to think about, Susanna!I had a similar experience with a homeless woman in Park Slope. She asked me to buy her a toasted bagel and coffee, and then rejected it when I brought it out, saying, “I thought you were going to buy me some nice Chinese food!” It was such a strange experience; but I guess it wasn’t unusual. The homeless people in Santa Ana keep to themselves mostly. I mean, they talk to me and Evangeline, but never ask for anything.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Interesting parallel you draw, Hon…Thought provoking! Mom

  5. Adrienne says:

    Good point, Susanna. True giving is giving without the expectation of a “thank you,” just like Jesus did for us when he gave his life for us on the cross. A good message to remember, especially this time of year!

  6. Susanna Rose says:

    Bethany, Interesting that you had a similar experience in Park Slope. Thanks for telling about it! I wonder if it is just simply due to the fact that this is a very wealthy area and so the homeless here receive way too much help, thus their attitudes…

  7. Rebekah says:

    I bet I could guess who the “regulars” in front of the store (Key Foods?) are, as they were also there when we lived in the Slope. We also have had the surprising experience of people rejecting or showing dissatisfaction with food. That’s a hard one to figure out. I would guess that mental instability plays heavily into it.Thank you for your excellent idea. We expect to see much need in SF, and having practical items on hand is fantastic.

  8. Susanna Rose says:

    Rebekah, you are probably right that mental instability could play a large part in their behavior. It would be interesting to find out more about their stories! I am glad this suggestion might be helpful to you while in SF…I am curious to know more about that!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Sign on to pimpthisbum.com seriously, this is a website out of Houston that is brand new. The Dolan’s (just 2 ordinary people- son and dad) choose Tim, a homeless person Feb 1st and are helping him get off of the street. They are amazing. This is what every city needs. His and his friends stories are so interesting. Sun Ray Recovery is putting him through alcohol recovery for 5 weeks so that he can hold down a job working 8 hrs a day without having DT’s. Anyway check the story out. They are going to help his friends next. They have live online on scheduled dates. Tim shaved his head and beard off last night and is leaving for rehab in the morning. Very sad circumstances. ANYWAY:I have been thinking about things that I can give to the homeless and have come up with the following:1.) Water2.) MRE (those kind the military uses that is self heat activated) they LOVE those! Very helpful.3.) Can soups/foods4.) peanut butter, jelly, crackers5.) Thurmus to drink from6.) self activated hot chocolate/ coffee (they have them at Wal-Mart)7.) Vitamins (especially those who drink alcohol b/c they have a folic acid and thiamine deficit)8.) SOCKs as this website pointed out9.) Bus voucher/pass b/c on cold nights they will sometimes get on a bus and just ride all night long until the morning to keep warm 10.) grocery store/gas station/ restaraunt gift cards11.) small or large self heat activated pouches to keep their hands/feet warm when it is freezing outside12.) plastic cutlery/plates/bowls13.) no rinse shampoo/body wash14.) telephone card with minutes15.) cell phones (the one you can add more minutes to) only to use incase of an emergency.15.) small first aid kit or atleast some bandaids16.) tolietries: minature ones that can fit into their back pack17.) shaving kit filled with minature tolietries (razors, shampoo, body wash, shaving cream, body spray, deo, Gold Bond foot powder, toothbrush/paste, comb, Benedryl to help them sleep, q-tips, ibuprofen for headaches b/c Tylenol will affect the liver more if they are drinking)These are just my ideas.

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