Friday, August 28, 2009

Make a Difference Monday: Helping the Homeless

It was early June when she crossed my path...My daughter saw her first. "Dog dog!!!" came the shriek from the back seat. There was indeed a dog by the light with a girl. She had a sign that said "Very hungry, no money. God Bless You." My heart broke into tiny pieces when I saw her because she did look extremely hungry. I had $2.00 and an open bag of Kettle Chips to offer but I figured it was better than nothing.

I was in the middle lane and called her over. I gave her my measly two bills and she gushed "Thank you so much! God Bless You!!" I wanted to cry. I asked her if she would like the bag of chips. I Apologized for them being open but she didn't care. She was just so happy that someone was offering her food.

I cried all the way home and for the remainder of my car trip...and I wondered what her story was. Why was she homeless?

I am extremely passionate about helping the homeless. There, but for the grace of God, go I! I believe God wants us to serve those who are in need...

"If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the Lord your God is given you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs." -Deuteronomy 15:7-8 **emphasis is mine**

This past week I learned that there are approximately 30-40 homeless children living in my county (which is one of the wealthiest counties in Tennessee!!) Apparently there has been some local media coverage about Timberline campground in Lebanon but because I live under a rock I didn't know about it until I was talking about homelessness with a local lady and she mentioned some of the homeless that she helps are in Lebanon.

What can we do?
"Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers in to His harvest field." -Matthew 9:37

I don't think that giving cash to people I do not know is the most effective use of my money. If I am going to donate money to helping homeless folks then I want a steward I can trust! I would be devastated if I gave a few dollars to someone and they managed to overdose because of my money. (Maybe I have seen too many 20/20 specials!)

How can you avoid helping someone along the path to destruction?

Don't give money to individuals. If you only want to donate money then find an organization to be a steward of your money... Locally the Nashville Rescue Mission, or Brooks House or Gladeville Baptist Church would all be more than happy to accept any donation that you would like to provide. *note* if you donate to a church, you may want to tell them specifically what you would like your money to go towards. I think this would fall under "Missions offering" or something similar.

There is another route you could take as well...since you read this blog and go searching for the local steals and deals you have invaluable skills that most of America do not have!! You have learned how to get something for virtually nothing!!

Maybe you and a group of friends (or your Sunday School class or your high school class or your small group or your family) could get together and make hygiene packs for the homeless and then donate those to any of the places listed above. As many free dental products as are out there this week it should make them fairly inexpensive...especially if you share the expense with a group of folks. Free carefree at Walgreens this week (Free after Register Rewards...ask me before buying more than one pack and I'll explain how to Roll your RR's!)

You could make several very inexpensive hygiene kits and stick some fun items in there like granola bars or individual packs of trailmix (Planters makes a yummy kind and you can buy it in boxes with six individual serving sized packs in them!!) or other food items...packets of oatmeal etc.

You can usually find these things free or extremely cheap around once a month or so:
Toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, soap or body wash, dental floss, deodorant, feminine hygiene products, razors....

If you are like me with the big heart and inability to pass anyone up, you might also try this: Save a few of the hygiene kits from above and keep them in your car, maybe along with individual juice boxes or pouch type drinks. Then if you come across someone who has been stripped of everything except a tiny shred of dignity and a ton of humiliation you can give them some dignity back and give them the chance to see Jesus in you. I am sure they would much rather have something clean and fresh to drink and some hand sanitizer to clean their hands and something to eat than the money anyway. The $2.00 or so it might cost you to make one of these bags will go a lot further with coupons and thoughtful shopping than it would on the McDonalds Value menu.

**I am going to sleep a few hours before my monkeys wake up. Rite Aid will be up later today and I will be sure to update the make a difference Monday short list. So sorry I haven't gotten that done yet.

FREE Toothpaste this week at CVS & Rite Aid. FREE Carefree at Walgreens.**

**Please note - I am not suggesting anyone place themselves in danger at all here. A portion of the Homeless are mentally Ill or have malicious intentions just like people with homes. If you have concerns for your safety then please just donate your hygiene kits to one of the three locations above and keep yourself safe!! Do also realize that not all homeless folks are bad or mentally ill**


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