For years I have felt unsettled every time I see a homeless person on a street corner with a cardboard sign asking for help. The Gospel clearly tells us to help our neighbor, those who are weak, poor and vulnerable. But the reality is that there is no way I am going to invite a homeless person to my home or into my car as I have to think of the safety of my family and my own safety.
I also don't feel good about giving them a handout, $5 or $10 as that is only going to be a tiny bandaid to their much larger problems. So what to do? How can I, how can we be obedient to God's calling for us and not enable the homeless who beg on street corners? (Incidentally, any of us could be homeless one day-that could be me or you in ten years! Don't think so? I hope not but many homeless did not imagine themselves in this position years ago either.)
So, I think I have a divine solution-what I mean is that my idea could not have come from me-I am not this generous nor this creative. This idea I believe came from God. Here it goes... I am going to prepare ten gift bags at a time and keep them in my car. So whenever I pull up to a stop light and there is a homeless person asking for help, I will reach into my back seat (or better yet ask one of my children to reach for a gift bag) and hand it to the homeless person.
What will be in the gift bag you ask? The following is the list I have come up with:
1. A personal letter from me to them. (to be included in a future blog)
2. A gift certificate to McDonalds or Subway (a restaurant chain that are commonly found around town)
3. Toiletries such as hand-sanitizer, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, socks, soap, shaving items, etc. I will let you know exactly what I buy after the fact.
4. A prayer book-I think this will be "Jesus Calling"-as this is a personal daily inspirational book and easier to read than the Bible-to start off with.
5. Most importantly, enough cash to take a taxi ride to a local homeless shelter-one that I will investigate this coming week and one that will take in the homeless and offer them job skills and a place to live and a chance for them to change their life around.
So this is the deal-I have told my kids that I am going to do this for several years and my 16-year old son called me to the table the other day. He said "mom, you have said over and over that you are going to put gift bags together for the homeless but you'll never do it."
My son's words hit me in the face like a ton of bricks! How unfaithful I have been in God calling me to help His people. And how unfaithful my children have seen me become. So, this morning as I was working out at the gym it hit me. It hit me so hard that as I was doing sit-ups I became overwhelmed with emotion and began to cry! It is at moments such as these that I feel the Holy Spirit taking over my body. When I can go from straight face to tears and emotions so strong I want to scream out-this is not from doing sit-ups! No way, this is God within, alive and wanting to thrive!
This is the thought that came to mind...I will take on one part of the gift bags a day-until they are ready to give away. This should take me about a week, maybe ten days. I thought that if I publish my plan in a blog, I would make myself more accountable and finally be faithful to my words. Each day I do one more task to prepare the gift bags, I will add to my blog. Today I will go to the Dollar Store and buy ten gift bags and while I am there I will look for toiletries.
How am I going to pay for this? That is easy! I have a "God Savings Account." That is right-each time I get paid, I put a small amount into a sub-savings account named "Dios" which means "God" in Spanish. So the funds are there.
Maybe, just maybe you are reading this blog because God would like to motivate you to help our less fortunate brothers and sisters in your city or town.
Ok, that is all for today... I'll be back with an update!
God Bless you!
Theresa G. is fascinated by the topics of God, spiritually and the Catholic Church. As her faith and knowledge about these topics grow, her desire to write about them grows as well. Maybe you will be able to relate to one of her articles and maybe they will affect you in a positive way!