Monday, February 9, 2015

Giving Warmth - How Will YOU Help?

Help someone today.

You don’t need a lot to be helpful – you just need intention
You don’t need to be rich – let the rich people help with MONEY.  Find something YOU can help with.

·         Is it time?  Do you have TIME that you could put aside to volunteer for an organization?
·         Is it a talent?  Can you play the piano and entertain nursing home residents?
·         Is it a resource?  Are you willing to donate blood at the Red Cross?
·         Is it a skill?  Can you cook a meal for a hungry neighbor?

This winter I am helping others by giving WARMTH.  For the past few years I have collected sweaters, coats, mittens, hats, and scarves to hand out to homeless people.  I get many of them from the group Freecycle.  David and I sometimes make coffee and tea, pack up the warm gear, and go around Washington DC and hand out sweaters, etc.  People who receive them are always really thankful.

But I got to thinking – there are people in my own neighborhood, that walk right by my house, that could use warm clothing.  So I started a little project.  Every cold day, I put one item on a hanger and place it on our front gate.  I started with a warm lined jacket I had gotten after I requested warm clothing to give away on Freecycle.  A woman had cleaned out her neighbor’s apartment after he died and she gave me 2 or 3 bags full of warm clothes, which I washed up and folded.  So I put one of that man’s jackets on our front gate, along with a sign explaining that it was free, and if you were cold it was YOURS.  And to please pass it along to someone else when you were done with it. 

Giving WARMTH - a sweater on our front gate for whoever needs it
It was out there a few hours, and then I heard some people talking.  I peeked out the window and it was a young couple with a small child.  It seemed like they were considering taking it, but the woman said, “No, you should leave it for a homeless person”.  I thought that was so touching!  It was a freezing night, they were out walking in the dark (probably had gotten off a bus and were walking home).  They clearly COULD have used the jacket.  Yet the woman knew that someone else could have used it even more.  It was not long after they left it that someone else (I didn’t see who) took it.  I was happy to see it was gone.

The next day I put out a sweatshirt with the same sign.  As we pulled out of the driveway, we saw a man who looked like he may be a day laborer take it with him.  It made me smile – day laborers stand out in the cold waiting for work for so long, I was glad to think he had one more layer of clothing to 
protect him.                                                                            

Sign for gate with changeable item labels
Today I gave away a sweater.  The person who took it also took the hanger (even though my note asks people to leave it) and the note.  So, I have made a new note and rustled up another hanger.  Tomorrow’s item, a thick, warm brown knit stocking cap, is ready to go. 

Sometimes I feel guilty getting things on Freecycle.  I feel like other people probably need them more than me.  But I guess I am a bit of a “middle woman” – driving around and collecting the warm gear, washing it, and re-gifting it to people who need it. 

I don’t tell you this story to boast.  I tell you this story to inspire YOU to find what YOU can do to help someone.  If you do, I promise it will make you smile.  As they say in a song in the show “Avenue Q”, “When you help others, you can’t help helping yourself”. 

Warm hat - ready for a new owner
 P.S. – here is a link to the “Avenue Q” song I mentioned in case you are humming it in your head now.  The song, like the show, it totally irreverent and lovely.  Please understand that the message of the song, doing unto others makes YOU feel better, is a true statement, but should (hopefully!) not be the sole reason to help others J  The audio on this version is not great but it is captioned:

P.P.S. – here is a link to another applicable song that I like, “Lean on Me” – and this is a really cool version of it:

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