Our homeless population in New Orleans has always been a topic of controversy. What causes these people to be homeless? Why don’t they help themselves? What are their stories? Are they scamming? Are they faking? Are they mentally ill? Why doesn’t the city just DO something about it?
**Read more at https://nolabubble.com/homeless-for-the-holidays/
Often, when I hear, “Something has to be done!” I feel an undertone that makes me feel like the “problem” of homelessness is just something we’d rather not see. My Uptown neighborhood app, Nextdoor, is full of comments, discussing the homeless like stray dogs.
“Just quit feeding them and they’ll go away.”
Well… I don’t have any answers. I don’t know who is faking, who is scamming, who is mentally ill, or who is just plain hurting and poor.
It’s not my job to figure that out – it’s too big. There are too many layers.
But I know this: NO ONE wants to spend the holidays under an interstate overpass. NO ONE wants to huddle beneath the concrete pillars against the wind and rain and cold. NO ONE deserves to have all their earthly possessions confiscated by a caravan of police and city workers, doing a “sweep” before any big event. Tourism tops humanity – every time.
Out of sight, out of mind.
Here is what Marianne Williamson once said in a lecture, and it has always stayed with me: We do not need to worry about what happens AFTER we give. If we give money; yes, they might buy alcohol or drugs. If we give food; true, we may enable a homeless person to remain on the street one more day, just postponing the solution. If we give warmth and clothing, we may encourage the recipient to delay seeking help. BUT… when we see a movie, do we worry about the money we spend being spent in the wrong ways by the Hollywood Stars? Drugs? Parties? Excess of all kinds? When we attend a concert, do we wonder if the performer is strung out? Not spending his (our) money wisely?
No. We give money for all kinds of things for one simple reason: It gives us pleasure. We love the music. We love the film. We love the lecture. We love the experience. IT MAKES US FEEL GOOD.
So. There it is. It’s the GIVING that matters. It’s what makes us human. It’s what makes the world a better place – and it’s a blessing to US to know that we’ve sacrificed something to give to someone else. It’s the simple matter of the golden rule.
With all that in mind, we, and many friends around the neighborhood and school are going to do what we can during the holidays to help the homeless have a little joy. We will be creating Blessing Bags to distribute, and here is the list of items in each bag; which we hope you will pass along and spread the joy of the season far and wide.
- Toothbrush & Tooth Paste
- Chap Stick
- Sanitary Wipes (Costco or Sams)
- Thermal Socks
- Scarf and hat
- Rain poncho (I have these from a promo earlier this year – no link…)
- Moisturizing Lotion
- Gum (Costco)
- Water bottle
- A soft blanket
- Home made cookies or baked goods
- Pre-packaged pudding snacks, beef jerky and crackers with tuna/chicken salad (Costco or Sams)
- Three stamped envelopes and blank Christmas cards, in case they want to reach out to someone they miss
(I found many of these things on Amazon and Overstock in bulk at unbelievably cheap prices. For less than $250, we have enough of each of these items to create 50 complete bags).
I gave up a new pair of jeans. Talk about making you think…
This makes me much happier, proving that the one who gives receives more than the one who is given to.
In groups, each person could purchase in bulk just one of the items, and gather together to make the Blessing Bags as a community.
** I will follow with some pictures once all this arrives and we create the gift packages. My plan is to lay the soft blanket on the ground, folded in half, then place all the things on the blanket. Pull the corners to the center, and wrap a big bow (Christmas scarf) around it to contain everything.
I don’t just want to give the stuff. I want to give a cheerful package, gift-wrapped, that makes someone feel special and loved.
Throughout the holidays, I’ll be making batches of these and bringing them (hot) to as many homeless people as we can. SO easy, and I love this idea of serving a hot meal in a way I can actually do, and not just talk about.
Let the holidays begin, friends. And let us bring joy to ourselves by giving to others.