I have a great deal to be thankful for in my life but typically Thanksgiving’s aren’t particularity important to me because I don’t have my girls nor do I have any family here.
But yesterday was different.
Yesterday my girlfriend and I decided to head out into the city in the hopes of helping some of the local homeless in a small way. I had won $100 the night before playing poker at a friend’s house and wanted to give it away on Thanksgiving.
So we hopped in the car and drove around for awhile looking for people to donate a few bucks to and we come across a guy standing on a median and I handed him a $20 bill.
I see the surprise in his eyes for such a generous gift and I wish him a happy thanksgiving and drive off.
But I’m left wondering how much that will really help him in the grand scheme of things. I mean will $20 make a real difference for him?
So we decide to do something that we hadn’t planned on.
I flipped a u-turn, parked the car, and watched him for a few minutes to see what he would do. Would he walk across the street to the liquor store? Would he go buy some food?
And we watched with dismay as he crossed the street and walked right into a liquor store. I was disappointed to see that but was utterly surprised when I saw what he bought; a Pepsi.
And we watched as he walked back to an area where there were two other guys and we decided to go talk to them.
We ended up talking to them for more than half an hour and I was moved to hear about their struggles, their backgrounds, and how they make it through each day.
They shared how they struggled through drug and alcohol addictions, have saved each others lives, and even watched some of their friends freeze to death.
It was a humbling experience and I got to meet three good men named Jimmy, Norm, and Brian.
These guys have been living on the streets and in camps for 15 years and I was amazed at how positive they were. But even more so, how supportive they were of one another, like a real family.
They share everything from the donations they collect to the sleeping bags they sleep in and it was incredible to see such humanity.
We asked them what their biggest struggles were and they said it was living in the fear of freezing to death or starving to death.
So instead of giving them more money, we decided to head into Walmart and picked up blankets, sleeping bags, boots, shirts, sweatpants, propane tanks, canned goods, water, hand warmers, and a bunch of other stuff.
We even got them some mini baked pies to enjoy on Thanksgiving.
And as we drove back to the spot where these guys were staying, I saw Norm’s face light up. He probably thought he would never see us again..
I told him we had some stuff for them and that it was too much for him to carry back to their camp.
So he hopped in my car and I drove him to the camp and as we walked back into the woods where it was, I saw how they were living;
it was nothing more than a few tents and chairs, a makeshift grill, and some pots and pans, but it was their home.
They thanked us for our kindness and we wished them a Happy Thanksgiving. I gave them hugs, wished them well, and told them I’d see them again soon.
And I will.
I feel like this was such a wonderful way to spend this holiday and feel like we touched these guys lives. I know they touched mine.