I first met Pam as we were working together on a humanitarian project compiling thousands of kits for the homeless . I soon learned that compassionate acts of service are a significant part of Pam’s life. Here’s a few of her amazing stories and perspective on how we can help.
I have worked with the homeless in Denver for four years now. One of my first experiences was handing a woman with an eleven-day-old baby a blanket. I wasn’t prepared for her tears. She said, “Thank you, now I have a place to lay my baby.” The donated blanket was this baby’s first bed.
Sometimes the experiences you have change the way you think of homeless people.
Let me share Dylan’s story.
Dylan is six, and he is carrying everything he owns in a little bag on his back. His coat is an adult fleece, his shoes had holes in the bottom, and his clothes were coming apart at the seams. He lacked underclothes and his face was dirty.
Did you know the average age of a person who is homeless is 9?
We try to keep clothes for kids at the soup kitchen. We brought up bins of items that might fit the kids in Dylan’s family. Of all the clothes, the girls were most excited about the underwear. They actually jumped for joy!
I will never forget Dylan’s face as I placed a pair of gloves on his cold hands, his excitement as I placed a coat made for kids on his cold body. His sisters meticulously looked over everything in the bins.
This was their shopping experience.
As they held up each article of clothing their mom quietly said, “Only choose a couple things. It will be heavy to carry a lot.”
The girls carefully made their choices and then gave me so many hugs of gratitude.
Have you ever thought about carrying all your possessions on your back?
Have you ever thought about your child having to carry all their belongs on their backs?
We called so many shelters hoping to get the family a place to sleep for the night. Every place we tried was full. There truly was no room at the inn, no where for this family to go on a cold night. It was hard watching them walk away. Each child carrying a backpack of their belongings, seeing the holes in Dylan’s shoes as he walked out of my sight. I was left wondering what will become of this family. Where will Dylan sleep tonight?
Unfortunately there are many Dylan’s in this world. Often I am asked how can I help?
Here are three simple things to do:
1. Go through your clothes. Take the time to donate clothes to soup kitchens and homeless shelters. Do you know what the number one item homeless people ask me for…. Socks. They are also always in need of jeans.
2. Allow a homeless person to walk a mile in your shoes! Do you have tennis shoes that still have tread? I can’t tell you how many homeless people have benefited from shoes with many miles of wear left. Start a shoe collection at your gym! (I started taking pictures of the shoes that homeless people were wearing. I wanted people to see them so they would donate their old shoes!)
3. Lastly, think underwear. When you get those bonus dollars at Kohl’s, use it to buy underwear and socks. All sizes are needed. Think about little Dylan. He didn’t have any underwear. When I bring up bins for kids, the kids are usually looking for underwear.
One more little story…
This is me with Simeon.
He battled stage 4 cancer while living in the streets. I learned from Simeon that the best place to sleep in the park is under the swings. Why? You don’t have to panic when the sprinklers come on. They don’t water the sand!
I visited Simeon many times in the hospital when he had treatments. He was grateful to see me but more grateful for the food. I can’t imagine doing chemo on an empty stomach. I think my sweetest memory of him was helping him find his sister and letting him use my phone to Skype with her.
We’re so grateful that Pam was so willing to share just a few of her experiences here on the blog today. What a powerful reminder that we have so much-and that we have so much to give. Just think: what would one good (not new-just in decent shape) pair of shoes do for someone… Donate today!