Harper has decided to run for student council this year, and one of the requirements for running is to participate in some form of community service for two hours. On Saturday, the four of us went downtown to stand on the street and help hand out food and water to the homeless. (A friend of ours is involved in a foundation that provides meals and clothing to the homeless every month.)
Over 100 homeless people went through our line. Every single one of them was grateful and kind and every single one of them broke my heart—and that wasn’t their intention, it’s just that my heart is easily broken.
One man (I’ll call him Smiley) returned to Meredith and me after he went through the food line.
Smiley: Let me guess. She’s your daughter.
Me: She is! How did you know?
Smiley: Because she looks just like you, except her hair is longer. Do you think she’s smarter than a fifth grader?
Me: I sure hope so, because she’s in the seventh grade!
Smiley: She looks brainy, but I bet I can outsmile her.
Smiley then stood there with the biggest smile on his face until Meredith busted out laughing. He then turned and walked away carrying everything he owns in a dirty duffel bag.
As the line wound down and it was almost time to go, Meredith noticed that she had only three drink packets left, and they were all raspberry lemonade flavored.
Meredith: Will you come with me for a second?
Me: Sure, where are we going?
Meredith: That guy sitting on the sidewalk over there told me that raspberry lemonade is his favorite. I’m going to give him the last three.
All of this to say: Our family had no idea what to expect when we drove downtown to help out on Saturday, and as clichéd as it sounds, we were a different family as we drove back home.
Meredith: After working there this afternoon, I almost feel silly complaining about my Windows 10 update not working.
We’ll be back.
(Current thoughts scrambling in my head: Homeless shelters are good, right? Right. BUT, what if a homeless shelter is full of bed bugs and feeds their residents only three bologna sandwiches each day? And what if the bread is moldy on those sandwiches, and the residents are told to just rip off the moldy parts? And what if that same homeless shelter tells its residents that if they accept food from us, they are no longer welcome to stay in the shelter? Despite what many people believe, not all homeless people are addicts who just need to get off the stoop and get a job. It’s too easy to sit back in an air-conditioned house and think that. Or to think nothing at all past the fact that Windows 10 can really suck sometimes or how crappy it is that a football game in overtime might make The Amazing Race run late.)