It Started With A New Coat For A Homeless Man
–by OCSlacker, posted Oct 27, 2018
It started 4 years ago. My wife would see a homeless man near where she works. It was the week before Christmas and she said she wanted to buy him a new coat. His was torn and very old. We don’t have a lot of money; really we are a step away from being homeless ourselves most months but we try to help when we can.
We talked and found a way to get some money together to buy him a coat. I thought since we are giving him a coat let’s look at what else he might need. We brainstormed and decided to fill a backpack with useful things, a toothbrush, soap, wash clothes, a hat, gloves, deodorant, razor, some food, etc. and a small gift and Christmas card.
A few days later, a check came in the mail. It was completely unexpected. A merchandising company I work for was sued and they had to pay us for travel time, entry times, etc. It was not much, a few hundred dollars, but wow did it come at the perfect time.
I had been reading stories on KindSpring and was overwhelmed by the generosity of strangers. We thought, let’s make give backpacks and give them out on Christmas eve to people who would otherwise have nothing to open.
We know what that’s like. We haven’t had money to exchange gifts for birthdays or Christmas in many many years too. It feels wonderful to have someone think of you at Christmas and truth be told, I’ve always been a little embarrassed when friends ask “what did you get for Christmas/birthday.” It always makes my wife feel bad that she can’t afford to give me anything and I feel the same. So much so, that I would lie and say she bought me this thing or that, to avoid the “oh, I’m so sorry” chatter. But that year we could say we gave to others instead and that’s exactly what happened.
It’s incredible. People asked and we said what we did. They wanted to help the following year and we made ten backpacks the following Christmas, 15 the year after, and this year we really expanded.
We work with two local police department groups called H.E.A.R.T. and volunteers to help distribute bags. We set up a GoFundMe account, accepted donations of canned goods, new socks, etc. A friend works at a department store and used her friends and family discount to get us 50 brand new backpacks that would have regularly cost us $300 for $200. All of which were gifted to us from her and another generous supporter.
My job brings me to CVS often and I was able to get 50 blankets at a deep discount when the store manager heard why I needed so many, and the most incredible part is another friend in LA saw the post and she put together 25 backpacks to give out this year with her daughters.
I still can’t afford to give my wife something to open on Christmas day, but the joy we feel giving out these backpacks on Christmas eve makes up for it ten fold!
We are working toward making this a year-long project by distributing backpacks monthly. Hope we can see this grow to help many others throughout the years.
We are so grateful to everyone that gave and to all of you for your inspiring acts of kindness.
Next year we go even bigger!