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Worth a read.

{Stick with me on this.  I need your help.}

There’s this guy I see walking around town.  He’s a bigger guy.  Long unbrushed hair.  Scruffy beard. His layers and layers of clothes look unwashed.  He carries a big black bag and leads his healthy looking black dog around with him.  I seem to see him a lot.  Or maybe the brief encounters I have every so often are just more memorable than most people I see around town.

Every time I pass him, I wonder (sometimes out loud to my kids)

“what is his story?”

“where does he go at night?”

“how did he end up on the streets?”

“why does he stay around here (where resources are limited)?”

“where is his family?  Do they know where he is?  Is he in contact with them?”

“what is his name?”

Every time the questions flood in.  And I wonder.  But I never stop besides to once-in-a-while hand him a few dollars out the window as I continue on my way to finish all the things I “have” to do.

But today was different.  Today I left the grocery store in my nice warm winter coat (let’s ignore the fact that I had flip-flops on because flip flops are life and I will wear them all year) and said out loud “Holy flip it’s freezing” as I ran through the parking lot to my car.

{It’s cold in Utah right now.  So so so so cold.  And it will only get colder.  And somehow, every year, I forget how cold it gets.  And I forget how long it lasts.}

Anyway.  I digress.  I walked out of the store, in the freezing weather, loaded my car full of groceries I’m privileged to have money to buy and as I drove out of the parking lot, there he was.  I rolled down the window, said hello, handed him a few dollars, looked him in the eye (because THIS will never leave my mind), and continued on my way.

As I drove away, thinking about him, and all the questions that come with his presence, I had a thought.  It was a reminder actually of something I’ve been meaning to do, but managed to keep putting off because that’s how we let life push us around sometimes.

Here’s where we get to the REAL reason for this post.  There are these blankets at Costco.  They’re down blankets.  They pack into a little carrying case that is small and super easy to carry.  And truth be told, the blankets are MAGIC.  They are SO warm.  They’re deceiving in size and weight, but they hold in the heat like you wouldn’t believe.

A while back I thought “I should buy a bunch of these for the homeless shelter and homeless community (who don’t use the shelter)”.  They’re perfect for people on the move who are subject to the extreme cold.  They pack easily in to a small case, they weigh next to nothing, and they’re easy to wipe off and clean.

Seeing this man reminded me to quit thinking about it and “DO IT”.

I know there are so many worthy causes, especially this time of year.  The beauty of this–the blankets are only $20.  Twenty bucks and it can literally change someone’s day-t0-day life.  I hate being cold.  Hate it.  It affects everything.  My mood, my spirit, my attitude, my ability to think and function or accomplish anything, my ability to be nice.  Being cold is part of the devil’s plan.  And I’d love to help people NOT be cold.

Back to the story for a minute.  Instead of going home, I went to Costco, bought a blanket, drove back to the man and parked my car.

I’m embarrassed to admit, I felt stupid.  I felt nervous.  My heart started beating fast and the doubts assaulted their way in to my head.

I’m pretty introvert and walking up to a stranger like that is on my list of “man I really hate this” things to do.

But, whatever.  The guy was out in the cold.  He’s outside a lot of the day (I know, because I see him).  And my best guess is he’s staying out most of the nights too.  He’s one of MANY who are in similar circumstances.

I got out of my car, wondering what in the world I was doing, and walked over to him.  I asked his name, asked about his dog (who you could tell he loved with his whole heart) and asked him if something like this blanket would be helpful (I didn’t want to push something on him he didn’t actually need/want).

We didn’t talk long, and he wasn’t very chatty.  I had no expectations.  I didn’t expect him to say much to me (also a stranger and probably equally as awkward for him).  I certainly didn’t expect any praise or huge amounts of gratitude because truth be told, I wouldn’t be terribly grateful in that moment if I were him.  I also didn’t feel comfortable asking more questions than that.  I don’t know him and didn’t feel I had a right of access to his story without putting in the effort of knowing him.

But he was kind.  And gracious.  And I could tell maybe a little self-conscious (I feel ya buddy).

But that blanket–it will keep him warm.  I know it will because I have one and I’m pretty sure it saved my life one night at a football game ;).

Okay.  Back to the point.

I want to buy a bunch of these blankets.  For the homeless community around me and in the surrounding cities.  I’ve been in contact with my local Homeless Shelter, the Road Home, and have suggestions and advice from them.

I’m inviting all of YOU to help me.  I’d love to raise as much money as I can so I can buy as many blankets as possible and give them to those who just need a little warmth, both in body and in soul.

Twenty bucks.  Twenty dollars buys a blanket and it could make all the difference in someone’s life.  Not being dramatic on that one.

You can donate a dollar.  You can donate $10.  If you donate $20 it buys a blanket.  If you’re willing to donate more, we’ll buy more.

Small things with great love truly do add up.  And they matter.  They make a difference.  WE make a difference.  And those people we’re trying to help, THEY make a difference too.

To participate, you can:

Venmo the money to me, @lindsayross17 (my profile photo is me on a little motorcycle) OR

Paypal to lindsayrossphotography@yahoo.com (be sure to mark that you’re sending it to friends and family or they’ll charge a fee).

Or if you’re close to me (and know me), feel free to just drop some cash by or I’ll come pick it up.

I know it’s hard to just send money to someone, but I hope you trust I will use every cent toward the homeless community.  I’m not keeping a dime.  I’ll document the entire process, report how many blankets we buy, and document the delivery of the blankets.

I will be accepting donations until DECEMBER 12th.  

I’ll then add up the money, buy the blankets and take them to the people who need them sometime next week (documenting it all of course to share with all of you).

As always, THANK YOU to those of you who continue to show up each year as I do my best to do something small for the homeless community.  They have and will continue to have my heart.  I just can’t wrap my brain or heart around someone not having a place to call home.

I just finished a book called “Welcome Homeless” by Alan Graham.  It was eye opening to say the least and I LOVE love love the work Alan Graham is doing.  He built a community for the homeless in Austin, Texas and a “food truck” for the homeless called Mobile Loaves and Fishes–nothing short of inspired.

I’ll leave you with something he said:

“Our dream of connecting human to human and heart to heart has become a reality.  This was never going to be a transactional housing model for the homeless.  People are not just objects to satisfy–Here’s your green soup; now go sleep on a cot.  We are meant to hold the promise of life to others.  Start treating people with dignity and respect.  Start doing that, and the world–cannot–will not–stay the same, because people respond to being loved.”

People respond to being loved.  Amen, my friend.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask away.  ltross17@yahoo.com

Venmo, Paypal, or cash.  $20 buys a blanket.  Collecting until December 12th.  Those cardboards signs–the ones that say “Anything helps”–those signs are true.  Every donation, big or small, makes a difference.

 

Side note–for those of you who are close to me, I will also be happy to take any gently used clothing, blankets, or sheets you are willing to donate to the homeless shelter and will take that down with me when we take the new blankets.  You can look on the Road Home website for a current list of immediate/urgent needs if you’d like to donate something more that I can with me.

Drop them off on my porch by December 11th.  THANK YOU!

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