Ever since I was a little girl, I have had a soft spot in my heart for the homeless. I can still clearly remember driving past a Burger King with my Grandpa, and seeing a family with a sign asking for money (I later learned this is called pan-handling). I broke down in tears. Even as I got older it hit hard. When I was twelve or thirteen and my family and I were in downtown Boise, I still remember seeing a homeless man, and I cried and cried until my dad went up to him and gave him some money.
As I started to date my husband, I found that he had a soft spot for the homeless too. Whenever he saw someone homeless (and he still does this) he always gave them whatever change he had. This quality of giving drew me to him, and is still one of the qualities I most admire about him.
But now I am older and a bit wiser. And while yes, there are those out there who ask for money because they truly need help, there are some who will take the money you give and use it for things that don’t feed their bodies, but feed their addictions such as drugs or alcohol. But does that mean we shouldn’t give at all?
I say no. There are plenty of ways to help those who need it. Here is an example: a year ago, my husband and I accompanied my family on a trip to Salt Lake City. If you have ever been to Salt Lake City, you know that there are a ton of homeless people there. My husband and I, knowing that this is a soft spot for us, wanted to help, but we didn’t want to potentially feed any addictions either. So we decided to make what we call “care kits.” In these kits are toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, a hairbrush or a comb. Basically, some essentials. We made a few and passed them out to those we saw, and we felt amazing because of it.
I don’t share that story to brag, but to highlight a different way to address those who may be struggling. You can also donate to charities that help the homeless, or volunteer at a homeless shelter.
There is a hymn called “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” which I cannot sing without crying. It is a story song about a man helping a poor man with things he needs, and in the end, the poor man turns out to be the savior. The point being that when we help our fellow man, we are showing Christ how much we love him. However, every time I hear the hymn, I can’t help thinking about what more I can do to help those who need it. As we begin to enter into the holiday season, let us enter it with a heart willing to serve.
“For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have?” –Mosiah 4:19