I am happy to have Angela Carlie as today’s guest poster!
Guilt. It’s that heavy layer of emotion coating your internal organs when you approach the intersection just in time for the light to turn. You push the gas pedal in hope of making it through, but of course it turns red. And so you stop.
The woman stands only a few feet from the window, shivering in the rain. Her bent cardboard sign holds words you’ve seen a million times before. You catch her gaze momentarily before snapping your attention back to the light, blush filling your cheeks. But in that moment, you saw it, the hunger, the pain, and yet, you pray for the light to turn green. She’s staring at you. You feel it.
You spent your last bit of cash not five minutes ago on a tall latte for yourself and a hot cocoa for your son. He’s slurping the liquid sweetness now, annoying and loud, from the back seat. The light wouldn’t have turned if you had some cash, but since you don’t, it did.
You want to help. Even if you had some change, though, doubt would gnaw at your will to give it to her. Doubt that she’d use it for what you intended her to use it for. Food.
Then your son says, “Why don’t we help her, Mom?”
Maybe I’m the only one on the face of the planet who has been in this type of situation. I don’t think so, though. The homeless population is growing and I’m pretty sure more people are standing on the corner with a sign than there’s been in a long time. It’s not a new thing. There always has been and always will be people who need help. So, the question is, how do we help?
1. You may have heard this one before. It’s a brilliant idea. I’m not an advocate for fast food or anything, but when it comes down to eating or not eating, eating wins. Carry fast food gift certificates with you at all times. Sometimes you can buy them in $1 increments. That way when people ask for help, you’ll have a few bucks of food to give them.
2. Last summer my niece, nephews, son, and I decided to go on an adventure. We packed twenty brown bag lunches and then we drove around town looking for hungry people. We found them, the kids gave them lunches, the hungry people were happy, and the kids felt great about helping. It’s a total win kind of day when you can make everyone happy.
3. Street News. Have you heard of it? I didn’t until someone downtown asked me to buy a copy. In Portland it’s called Street Roots. It may be called something different from city to city. It’s a newspaper that allows homeless people the opportunity to help themselves. All you need to do is buy a newspaper. How cool is that? Very.
There are so many different ways to help. In my debut novel, Dream Smashers, Evan helps by volunteering at a homeless shelter several times a week. What other ways can you think of? Please post your ideas in the comment section below.
Thank you, Kim, for inviting me to The Caffeinated Diva to share my thoughts and words with your awesome readers. I appreciate it!
Dream Smashers is a coming of age story about a girl who no longer wants to care and a boy who cares enough for the both of them. It’s available as an e-Book and in paperback
on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and Smashwords.com.
To find out more about me, please visit my blog http://www.angelacarlie.blogspot.com.
Peace out for now!
Diva Note: Check out my review of this fantastic book here!
Angela, thanks for your guest post!
As someone who has been homeless, I can truly appreciate your tips.
And, as a single mom and as someone who now lives paycheck to paycheck, I can totally relate to the guilty feeling you describe when you go through the thought process “can I afford to give this person my hard-earned $?”
It’s a difficult call. I get that. But for me, since I’ve been on the other side, there’s just no option. If I have the cash, I give it. Sometimes, when I have a doubt about what the cash will go to, I drive through the closest fast food joint and buy the guy or gal the biggest combo meal they offer.
Twelve Terrifying Tales for 2011
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I’m so happy to hear you are no longer homeless. As I’ve never been in that situation, I have no idea and don’t pretend to know what it must be like.
I agree, and have a philosophy that if someone asks me for help and I’m able to give it, then I give it. Most of the time I don’t carry cash, though.
You mention going through the closest drive-thru. I’ve done that, too! The funny thing is, though, several times I’ve done that and when I returned to the corner, the person was gone! Then I was stuck with a bunch of food. My luck runs that way. Ha!