Written by Edna Myers
Every morning I get up out of my warm and cozy bed. I walk into my fully equipped kitchen to turn on my coffee pot and open the refrigerator to stare at the choices it holds. Nothing looks good and I wish I had shopped for a better selection the night before. I quickly think of how ungrateful I can really be! Why am I obsessing over what I don’t have while I have so much compared to others in this harsh world?
While I am climbing out of my warm and cozy bed, somewhere in the world there are numerous people without a bed! They count their blessings for the park bench, doorstep, the cardboard used to break the wind, or the occasional spot in the local shelter bed! I have learned a lot of surprising information on shelter life from a homeless man. The beds are always like a lottery, you must be in at a certain time, and no matter the weather outside you must pack your meager belongings to vacate the building for the day right after breakfast!
The homeless return to the shelter for dinner – if there is enough funding to provide that meal is something they are not certain of – yet they remain hopeful for a second meal of the day and a place to yet again lay their head. What can I do to keep them from being turned away at the end of the day? I can donate my time to serve meals and donate food to the pantry of the shelter to ensure there is a meal to feed them! I can get together with my friends and have a fundraising event to draw attention to the need of the shelter and to help build funds! There are so many things all of us could do to help out!
As I am turning on my coffee pot and waiting impatiently for that first cup of glorious hot liquid, there is a person looking through the window of a local coffee shop wishing he/she could just enjoy the warmth of the cup between their hands. I decided that next time I am at the coffee shop, I would look for that person looking in at the cup in my hand. I will offer them a cup of warmth and comfort! If I can afford a cup of coffee at $3.75 for myself, why can’t I afford the same for them? I will lend my ear to them over that cup of coffee and a muffin while learning something about that person. Everyone has an importance in this world and taking the time to listen gives us all a learning opportunity.
There I stand being so ungrateful for what is in the refrigerator of my fully functional and well-equipped kitchen. This is the moment when I realize just how blessed I really am! There are people out there that dream of having a simple little kitchen with a refrigerator of their own to hold a meager amount of food & drinks. Instead, they are standing in a line waiting to be served up whatever the soup kitchen offers up. They worry that there will not be enough when it is their turn in the service line! If the soup kitchen runs out of food, where is the next place to find a meal? Will it be the dumpster behind a restaurant? Will there be a person that looks up and sees the need for a warm meal? Will you be the person that does that random act of kindness? Don’t turn away! You could be that very person standing there weak from hunger and a lack of sleep in the blink of an eye!
Each day I try to be thankful for the blessing I have and try to think of a way to help someone else. What many of you may not know about me is that I have been humbled. I have been homeless and wishing for all the things I have now. I worried about having a place to sleep and a meal to eat. It really is a character builder to experience doing without! I was blessed with a great support system when I really needed it the most and quickly bounced back. Many don’t have that luxury!
Be thankful for what you have and always take that extra step to help someone else! There are many local charities that would be happy to take your donation of any items you have available! If you are struggling you can give your time or simply listen to a person. Sometimes just a person to talk to can be the most valuable gift you can give!
You can find a 501c-3 charity near you by asking your local Church or Chamber of Commerce. Your State Attorney General approves a 501c-3 charity at the state level. All legitimate fundraising is approved by the State Attorney General and will be listed on the State website with the breakdown of where your money really goes. Do your homework to ensure your money makes the biggest impact! 501c-3 charities will have an I.D. called an FIN # and will provide you with a tax-deductible receipt for you kind donation! Make sure to ask questions and research the charity you are considering! There are many organizations that are worthy of your support! You can link up with two of them below:
Note from Bruce: Originally, I asked Edna if we could collaborate together on a column with this topic for the Social Media Social Good series. After getting her “first pass,” which is above, I realized that I had more than enough of a great and important story to share from her words alone.
I made a television movie – very long ago – called “God Bless the Child,” which was the first movie to depict the homeless situation in the U.S. It won the prestigious Humanitas Prize and was even shown to Congress. Making that movie, I learned much about the homeless and I saw where they live, often in the extreme cold weather that much of the country is experiencing now.
Social Media gives us an outlet to do good. You can help. The best way, as Edna describes, is to support worthwhile organizations, or individuals with food. Be wary of ever simply giving someone money since too often – sadly – it’s used for alcohol or drugs. We can each make a difference though, so please do your part.