“What about the homeless? They shouldn’t be outside.”
When it rained, this was the cry of our family’s youngest member, Beckett. He would prostrate himself on our cold kitchen tile as he worried.
Though only six years old at the time, our empathetic defender was right. Homelessness shouldn’t exist, rain or shine.
So, our small (but mighty) family of five decided to experiment. While we knew we couldn’t solve the huge, complex problem of homelessness on our own, we could do more than laud Beckett’s compassion or join him on the floor in tears.
No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.
One crisp December morning before Christmas, we packaged up some goods we thought would be useful for the homeless in downtown Phoenix. Armed with about 50 blankets, pairs of socks, hygiene products, toothbrushes, healthy snacks, and more, we gave away everything we had. The only problem was that we didn’t have more.
Best of all, we had the chance to meet our displaced, sometimes discouraged, always delightful neighbors. We loved them all. The conversations we shared with them were filled with hope and mutual respect and laughter. But more than anything, our time together was marked by a powerful, though easily forgotten virtue: kindness.
Of course, we aren’t saviors—that title is reserved for One alone. As much as we wish everybody had a roof over their heads, our family still has zero idea how to eradicate homelessness. It’s a brutal social hardship that lots of people far smarter than us are working to solve (carry on, we say).
All we know how to do is continue loving our neighbors through practical acts of kindness.
We can’t keep passing by strangers standing on street corners with cardboard signs, sheltering themselves from the elements. Though they may not have addresses, they’re still our neighbors. Just like any neighbor, we believe they deserve a warm smile when we see them, a conversation, however brief, and all the kindness we can offer them as we journey through life together.
In the words of Aesop, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” We believe living this way is pretty swell—and it’s not some exclusive club. You, your friends, and everyone you know can help.