This year I shall be carrying on a tradition I started two years ago. Maybe it’s a little early to call it a tradition – but it’s something I intend doing always.
The year before last at about this time I was buying chocolate advent calendars for the kids. It’s something they love and I enjoy keeping it going even though they’re grown up now.
I went outside to go back to my car and there was a homeless man, sat in a doorway, just trying to take shelter.
I was devastated. I’d been buying flippant luxuries and he was trying to keep warm, one of the most basic needs we have. Sometimes life really punches you in the face and makes you realize that for all you think you don’t have, you truly are very blessed.
I’m not saying I can change the world nor do I expect to, but I can change someone’s day. I went back inside and bought a couple of Subway gift cards, some socks and gloves, snacks, a couple of drinks, cleansing wipes, bandaids – other stuff – I spent about $70 in total. I took it out to him and he was overwhelmed.
I went home and took in my shopping in to my warm house and sat, staring into space looking at those flipping advent calendars …and decided I was going to do something.
Over the course of the next couple of days,I made up two boxes, one male, one female and filled them with socks , wipes, snacks gloves, tissues, cough sweets, sanitary products, $5 gift cards and so on. I numbered the things with 1-25 and made advent boxes of love so that two people could know that someone cared. It’s a start.
I took them to a homeless shelter in the nearest city to me. I don’t know who got them, that wasn’t the point.
Last year I did it for two women at a local safe house after seeing them (the safe house) help a friend of mine this year. I chose adults because there are schemes for toys for kids locally and I wanted the mums, who can feel so devalued after awful relationships – well I wanted them to know they matter too.
This year I’ve learned from people who are homeless that donations to hostels etc don’t always get to them or that they’re made to buy stuff that’s been donated. Whilst I find this upsetting it’s not going to stop me, I’ll just do it differently. I intend asking a couple of people what they would like most of all. Most want a coat or warm, waterproof shoes. They’ll get my advent calendars too but honestly, just being human and smiling at people is a start. A smile and a ‘hi’ goes a long way.
I’m not sharing this info because I need people to know what I did. Up to now, the only person who knew were the receptionists at the shelters.
I just thought some of you might like to do something similar. The rush from bring a secret Santa is pretty great.