“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.