I was looking through our Christmas posts from last year, we sure were busy. Looking back I can't figure out how we had time to do all the things we did aside from basketball, scouts, and catechism. Last year was about celebrating our family and making memories; we finished our Fall Bucket List, started our Winter Bucket List, Christmas Around the World, and were working toward our 1000 Hours Outside.
This year we are more relaxed about the things we want to accomplish before Christmas. It was not planned, but this year is about giving to others. Joey and Jacob picked tags from the 'giving tree' at their school, and donated a crocheted hat and a crocheted throw blanket. Joey felt it was important that we donate a handmade crochet blanket. He says it makes you feel loved as well as cozy, to wrap up in a blanket that you know someone made with love; they feel like wrapping up in 'home'. Jordan donated a crocheted Christmas blanket to the Senior Living for someone who doesn't get many visitor so they knew some one was thinking about them this season.
We were even able to gather some supplies and hand deliver them to a few homeless guys. While I would love to say that we came to do this on our own, but it was my brother who actually found this need for us to help meet.
Here's how my boys came to be able to see the people we help by donating.
I should have been asleep, but I was scrolling through Facebook at 2:00 am and came across a post by my brother asking for donations of blankets. I questioned when he needed the blankets by, and he called me (yep, at 2 am). He told me that he needed them before he went to work the next day. On his to the store he came across a man who looked like he was down on his luck. After a brief conversation with this man, it was apparent that he was homeless. My brother invited the man to sit in his car and warm up. While the man was warming up my brother inquired as to how the man become homeless. This man's homelessness had nothing to do with being lazy or being addicted to gambling or drugs. He feel victim to circumstance, his house had caught fire and sometime after that his wife died, things kind of snowballed and he was left with nothing. Seems we hear so often that most homeless are drunks and drug abuser, my brother offer to by this man a drink. The man declined saying he doesn't drink or use any drugs, he would appreciate some food though. My brother offered to warm him up some cabbage rolls he had made for dinner and bring it to the man. My brother drove the man to where the man said he was staying. When my brother brought him the cabbage rolls, he asked what did the guy need, his reply was blankets. He has a sheet but could really use some blankets and so could the other 4 men that were sharing the same living space. My brother doesn't have money to go buy 5 or more blankets, so he reached out via social media. He was able to gather 3 blankets, and 2 pairs of warm wool like socks.
I let my boys know that we were going to met up with Uncle and drop off some blankets for some guys who were homeless. My boys set about making Christmas cards out of construction paper to give with the blankets and tossed a couple candy canes in the bag too. Joey had asked that we stop on our way to Uncle's and buy some tooth brushes, toothpaste, and shower gel.
At first my brother wasn't sure how the men would feel about having all the kids by their "dwelling" and thought maybe we should leave the kids (my 3 boys and his son) in the van while we made our delivery. My boys were disappointed and wanted to be part of things. Once near where the men were staying my brother changed his mind and said to bring the kids. It was a bit of a hike from the car to where we were going and we wouldn't be able to see our cars from our destination. My nephew carried a container of hot chocolate that my brother had made just before leaving his house, each of my boys carried a bag containing two blankets (one I had crocheted that morning, remembering what Joey had told me weeks earlier about the comfort of handmade blanket) and the other things we bought.
As we were making our hike, I noticed that my brother had labeled the hot chocolate and had written the man's name on the bag he way carrying. My brother had told the man he would leave the bag of blankets outside the "door" of their dwelling if the man wasn't there. As we approached, there was a man who was heading out to collect cans who hung back to chat with us for a bit.
While my brother and I chatted a bit with these two gentlemen the boys, being curious boys, peeked around the dwelling. The men didn't seem to mind and answered the questions the boys asked. The men were grateful for the things we had brought. You could tell that it made their day they someone took the time to help them out. It made our day being able to help out.
On the way home, my boys talked about how bare the living conditions were and how homeless people just look like "normal people". Jacob and Joey both had the idea that all homeless people look like the "Bird Lady" from Home Alone 2 or had shopping carts overflowing with cans and their belongings. They were surprised that while these men didn't have many belongings, they shared what they did have with each other, like the blankets we brought and the hot chocolate.
I had a really hard time walking away without feeling like I should do more than we did. I know they must have more they need, but was at a loss for what else we could bring.
We help others, because we know how it feels to need some help