Monday, June 27, 2011
Christmas Challenge on behalf of the Homeless
You can give more for less. At first, this does not seem to be sound advice. It is a good idea. No, it is a great idea. Maybe you would rather give less for more. Hmmm...this is how I do it...
First of all, I would never advocate giving to the homeless only at Christmas. This idea is for collecting warm items for the winter, items you can find in summer yard sales. I have started giving these items earlier in the Fall.
One year at Christmas I listened to a friend who said that she had found watches on sale for $5 and had bought several dozen to give to young men who were trying to get a job. They were mostly homeless. She surmised that they could not get to appointments on time unless they had a watch. I felt sad that I could not be so generous to that many people. Without money, I thought, this was impossible.
Later that year, at a garage sale I saw a pair of gloves for a quarter. Hmmm, these are nice gloves and warm, something a person in need might find very helpful. Then, the light bulb. I could get all the gloves I found that were only a quarter and in good shape and give them to the homeless shelter!
As I made the rounds of yard sales, I did find about a dozen pair for a quarter. Warm scarves and hats caught my eye. Now, I was collecting hats, gloves, and scarves. At the final yard sale of the year, the people were touting the merits of the gloves that they marked $2, telling me how much they cost to begin with. Finally, I revealed to them what I was doing and that I only bought quarter gloves. The two couples and others in the yard sale, had a conversation. As I walked away, they stopped me.
"Here, we will give you all the gloves, hats, scarves AND all the coats if you are giving them away." I assured them I was. Three minutes later, I could barely see out of the car because of all the coats filling the front and back seats of the passenger area.
The reason I stick to gloves, scarves, and hats is storage room. So, I made room for the three or four trash bags that held my loot + coats when I delivered it to my friend. It took two men to carry it all onto my friend's front porch. I am still collecting only the smaller items.
Panties and briefs and boxers were often reduced to a quarter at Walmart. I bought those as I could afford them. Some days, I was stretching to be able to afford an extra quarter. Other days, I spent my last 50 cents. The days of quarter panties ended...sigh. But, in the meantime, I bought all my grandchildren's underwear for about two years and some to put away for another year beyond. These bought to give to the homeless were with the warm yard sale items to give.
That Christmas, I probably spent only $10 giving to those without means. At least a dozen people stayed warm. Nothing was shabby, just not new. I left shabby things for others to buy. One of the coats was leather and was insulated, also. Giving $10 means nothing to the masses who need. Giving all I had worked for more people.
All the hats and the little pair of gloves in the picture were at a neighbor's yard sale. She lives on the next block and just moved in. The hats were $1. When I started to put them down, she told me her husband wore them when he was in the Army and how warm they were. I told her I only bought things for a quarter and told her what I was doing with them. She handed them all to me and added the little pair of gloves. I tried to pay for them (quarter each), but she was generous. She had coats but I did not beg for them by telling me other people gave me coats one year. I get what I can get for a quarter and maintain low expectations so others will not be resentful and feel like I am begging or pressuring them.
The first year, I gave all I collected to my friend on Christmas Day. So, homeless people who had nothing warm still were cold on Christmas. The next year, I took it all on Thanksgiving Day.
Although I am in the South and Birmingham is even further south, it still gets cold, especially if people are out for very long in the weather. I can run to the car gloveless day in and day out until January if I want to. But, I imagine not having a warm house or car or a warm destination. No, gloves are needed.
Another way to give more for less is to get free items or really, really cheap items using coupons and sales. Give those items to the homeless or those who have no means of obtaining the things we take for granted. However, collecting good, warm, yard sale items is my way of giving.
Can you find one thing or several warm things that homeless or destitute people need, buy it for a quarter and stretch your giving dollars at Christmas (winter)?