Too close to home

4 Aug

This post isn’t funny, but it is important.

The town I live in has this thing once a year where local restaurants have a little “taste” of what their restaurant is all about. They close down Main Street, and all the vendors offer a plate of their restaurant’s food for a really reasonable price, usually between $5 and $10. For the second year, my church (yes, I really go to church) is having a booth. This year, we’re serving ribs, cornbread, fried green tomatoes and sweet tea. All kinds of yummy Southern goodness. We do Southern food because our pastor is from Alabama, and well, Southern food is really, really good. I’ll be there all day, not serving food or cooking, but collecting donations for our local homeless shelter. This isn’t a church-run homeless shelter, this is an honest to God-dependent-on-funding-and-donations-homeless-shelter.

While the economy may be improving, the crisis isn’t close to over for many families. Many families are living in tent cities, shelters or on the street because they’ve lost their job and subsequently their homes. People who never imagined they’d be homeless now find themselves living in the most dire of circumstances. Our picture of what homeless is has changed. It’s no longer the drunk on the corner begging for change, it’s the college educated mother with 2 children who can’t find work to feed or shelter her children. It’s the hard-working family of 4 that lost their income when the local factory closed, it’s any of us, it’s all of us. The local homeless shelter is the “cause” that I’ve chosen to give my time and effort to because I just didn’t know how bad it could be. I never knew that if not by the grace of God, it could be me and my family.

The wonderful man that runs our local homeless shelter told me that they’ve been at capacity of over a year now. In fact, they’re usually over-filled, and are constantly looking for other places to shelter people. They’ve grown increasingly dependent on donations, both monetary and goods (clothes, can goods, blankets, etc.) because unfortunately, state and federal governments have cut funding for their programs.

I don’t want to preach to you, I don’t want to guilt you or obligate you, I just wanted to share with you something that has truly impacted my life. With another school year starting, maybe you could donate your kids’ old out grown clothes to your local shelter. Maybe you have a couple of dusty cans of tomato sauce in your pantry that you could give to your local food bank or shelter. Maybe you just think about that mom or that family and do what you can, even if it’s just being armed with knowledge about a growing problem in our country, our cities, and our own communities.

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