Hello, hello! It's me, Kelley, the 'seasonal blogger' from Neighboring The Neighborless here in Chicago and it's once again that time of year.
While most of us are gearing up for football and holiday season, dragging out our warmer clothes, sipping hot cider (or, if you're like me, a grande chai tea), thousands of homeless Chicagoans are less concerned with who won the Northwestern game and more focused on where they will be spending their nights trying to stay warm and dry without having a place to call home.
As we go about our days, many of us see homeless people and we feel completely uncomfortable. One the one hand, we know that giving them money probably isn't a good idea. On the other, their lips are chapped, they look exhausted, dirty, discouraged... we know they need help. But we don't know what to do so, instead of stopping, we awkwardly ignore them and go about our day.
What can you do? There's a simple answer and it doesn't take much time or money. Care packages for the homeless are inexpensive, easy to assemble, and you can make several, then grab a couple of bags to take with you on your way to work in the morning in case you come across someone homeless and in need. Make it a family project and teach your kids the importance of paying it forward.
All you need is a 1 gallon sized ziplock bag and items to put inside, such as:
pepto bismal tablets
fruit in a cup
prepackaged tuna salad meals
If you include breakfast bars, try not to use bars that are difficult to chew. Often, homeless people are missing teeth and managing the tast of eating nutty, chewy foods can be painful; also, don't underestimate the importance of clean, dry socks. If you can include two pair in your care packages, please do. Fresh socks can make the difference between whether a foot needs to be amputated or not.
Any or all of the above-suggested items will be gratefully received by someone who's truly in need. And, as you pay it forward, remember the words of Minor Myers, Jr.:
"Go into the world and do well. But, more importantly, go into the world and do good."
Until next time, everyone...