I took my boys into New York City today. Since The All-Star Game will be held at Citi Field this summer, there are painted apples all over the city representing all of the teams in the league. We got to see 11 of the 35 apples today. It was a fun and exhausting day but we had a really nice time, and the boys actually got along for MOST of the time. It was a great way to spend our first day of summer vacation!
While we were there, we saw many homeless people on the streets. Some were pan handling, some were sleeping and others were just trying to find some shade to keep cool on such a hot day. This is something my boys have definitely seen before, but for some reason, the three of us really took notice of it today. We saw a woman rummaging through trash bins looking for cans and bottles. She had a cart overflowing with them. Her cart was also filled with what looked to be all of her belongings. Drew mentioned that she must be taking the recycling to a place to get money for it. He told me that he hopes that she buys some food with that money. I told him, I hope she had a place to sleep or at least a safe place to keep it all.
We saw one man, (and this was so heartbreaking), actually taking a discarded soda from the trash, along with a napkin, and drinking it. It is something that I cannot stop thinking about. I don’t give money to pan handlers. I just don’t feel like this is the best way to help. I know that I cannot help all of them, and ignoring them as I pass is probably not the right way to deal with it. I do many charitable things to help those less fortunate than me, and although I know those things will not directly help the people we saw on the street today, at least in my heart I know that I am doing what I can. I know that my boys also felt sympathetic towards them and I noticed them averting their eyes as we passed them on the street. I tried to talk to them about it. We talked about how there is always a story behind why someone is living out on the streets and that we cannot judge these people. My boys biggest concern was that they hoped they found a place to sleep at night time.
Both of my boys are empathetic. Drew is the one who urged me to start The 100th Day Food Drive at our school, https://aprojectforkindness.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/food-drive/ . I know that they are aware of the needs of others. It is a sad fact, but homeless people are a part of our society. I want my boys to respect all people. In our town, they don’t come across people living out on the streets, but there are definitely people who are struggling to make ends meet. The lines at the food pantry in town sometimes stretches out the door. Each week a sign on the door of the pantry says that they feed between 80-90 families. We talked about the fact that even if they have a home, they might be struggling in another way. Perhaps this summer, I can encourage them to do some volunteering. I plan on doing a big summer clean up at our house. I will encourage the boys to go through their things and donate what they no longer use or need. Bringing the items themselves to a place where others will be able to make good use of them will be another good example of how they can help others. I want them to build compassion and strengthen their character. When they realize that homelessness is a problem, perhaps they will find ways that will help them become a part of finding a solution.