Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dare to Care

[posted by Sheela at The Joy of My Life]

Hope Daring December will finally push me over the edge. Into proper humanness, that is.

At the risk of appearing to be an irrational chicken, let me continue with the post...

Some evenings when I am driving home and not taking the bus, I pass this particular traffic signal. Sometimes the light is red and I stop as required. And right at the same corner spot I see an elderly gentleman looking defeated and hopeless, yet, standing there in his inadequate jacket that barely shields him against the winter winds and the icy rains, holding up a tattered and soggy sign with barely legible letters: VETERAN. HOMELESS. HELP.

I have not had the courage to approach this homeless elderly veteran so far and extend some form of personal hand by way of conversation and aid. I simply pass by sending a silent prayer skywards. I have this irrational fear that he would take it the wrong way, scoff or outright yell at me for trying to give him what I can afford and offer at that time. Very Silly. I agree.

So far, we have been doing what little we can by way of charity in what can be construed as a fairly detached and anonymous way. It is easy to send a check to my parents who visit their local charities in Chennai, India (Udavum Karangal, or Vishranthi or any number of such charities in their city) on special days and dispense much-needed items there.

It is easy enough to pick a charity (local/nationwide/international) and send what we can - handmade crochet items, blankets, clothes, coats or even just a check. Dropping off non-perishables at Oregon Food Bank (OFB) collection points, and giving away old coats and blankets to Portland Rescue Mission (PRM) has been easy enough.

All very normal and behind the scenes. But, not hands-on. Fairly impersonal.

But browsing the items from PRM's Wish List for dropping off at their office had me exploring their website for the first time. And, something in PRM's website struck a cord in me - a practical suggestion: have a nutritious granola bar or something handy, attach a couple of TriMet bus tickets to the bar, add a coupon with meal times and directions to PRM, approach with a smile and offer "Would you like this bar of snack?".

I still haven't mustered up the courage to approach this gent. It is less painful to watch for the light to turn green and step on the accelerator. But, I do have a few granola bars, Trimet tickets and PRM's coupons handy in my purse. Perhaps I will finally have the courage to roll down my window and extend a granola-bar-laden hand his way, praying that he will take it...

7 comments:

GettingThereNow said...

That is such a practical suggestion (granola bar, TMet tickets etc.) ! I hope you do it this holiday season and that the gentleman takes to it kindly.

You are already doing something which is a lot compared to what some other poeple do - which is nothing.

Asha said...

We usually donate regularly to DAV and Salvation Army here. I do feel for Veterans,specially in US. I heard that when they came back from Vietnam war, they were not treated well by people.
Next time you pass him, just smile and wave at him. And you can greet him " Happy Holidays" before you give him anything. Some are very proud regardless of their homelessness.
You are a sweetheart Sheela, good of you to think about him!:))

Sandeepa said...

That would be a wonderful gesture Sheela. I understand your point, I want to have a personal touch in the giving too, which unfortunately I have never been able to do here. May you overcome your hindrance and finally hand over that bar.

Kay said...

Sheela, just do it... put everything in a big bag and keep it ready. next time you pass him, hand it over. You'll feel real good - not that 'I helped' feeling, but 'Glad that he'll have some nice moments' feeling and also, 'I'm glad I got over my inhibition and gave it to him' feeling.

I too used to do some impersonal charity... but 2 days back, we did something for a particular family and now I'm glad they'll be ok for quite sometime now.

Kay said...

and hey, he'll definitely take it. If he is not a person who wouldn't take it, he wouldn't be letting others know he needs help.

Tharini said...

That was so thoughtful Sheela. I think you will find whatever it is you need to find within yourself to go and give it. I think it'd make him very happy. Just do it!

bird's eye view said...

Those are great suggestions by PRM, and a lovely thought of yours. We typically pile our old woollens into the car in winter so we can hand them out to the shivering children we see on the streets here. We have also gotten into the habit of always getting a doggie bag packed when we eat out so we can give the food away to the streetkids.