And so you ask, “There are homeless people here and there. We feel something must be done, especially at this time of year. What shall we do? That is, given the amount of time, resources, and attention we have made available.”
In my head my response goes one way, but I consider how offended you might become with that response, and so I again stow those thoughts away for another day, and I tell you what I’ve always told you – those things you prefer to hear.
The story of the Gift Bags is a popular one – a do-able project, neat and clean. Interaction with the homeless remains minimal while seemingly impacting the lives of homeless people in a meaningful way. Resources have a value, and sharing resources seems altruistic enough. Enough for the holidays. You say you’ll follow up again after the Holidays, but you never do.
Brown bag it, lunch bags, plastic ziplock bags. Fill them with little necessities, toiletries, and tiny candies of good cheer. Gloves and clean socks with which to stay warm. Soap and deodorant to stay clean or at least give the appearance of cleanliness. Travel size, pocket size, everything. Mouth wash (non alcoholic) tooth brush and tooth paste. fingernail clippers and band aids. A sandwich and a cola. If you feel like being extravagant, throw in a McDonalds gift card or a bus pass.
Gather the kids to fill the bags (Christmas Stockings?) full of goodies and gear. Load up the van and drive downtown to where the homeless gather. Hand each homeless person a bag, wish them a Merry Holiday. Smile and keep moving until all the bags are distributed. Everyone pile into the van for the drive back home. There will still be time to hang out at the mall.