For the Homeless, getting through the Holidays is one of the most heart-breaking times of the year.
While all of us are looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas with friends and family, there are thousands of people living on the streets who have fallen short of reasons to be thankful and grateful this season.
Many people living on the streets once had a happy family and celebrated holidays just like we do. A personal tragedy and lack of support has brought them to the streets. While, most of them would be able to pull themselves off the homelessness, some would remain stuck. What they would remember forever is someone who helped them bring back the spirit of holidays during rough days.
While it is true the holiday season is about spending time with family and friends, it is also about giving to others.
Here are just a few ways you can help those experiencing homelessness during the holidays:
Gather up some clothes, toys, books, household goods, toiletries, warm clothes, towels, and blankets. Either give them directly to the homeless or to the organizations which work for them. When we think of holidays, we think about feasting on lavish food, exchanging gifts with family members and friends, holding a warm cup of coffee, and looking outside at the snow.
What we should also remember is that some people do not have their own homes to bundle up during the wintry weather. Offer them a warm meal, hot coffee, Christmas books or gift cards as a reminder that God sends his angels to those in need. Spend some quality time with them, initiate a conversation, ask them about their holiday memories and say a quite prayer for them, this holiday season.
The best gifts are the ones that are unforgettable. Think about all the materialistic things we gift to each other without considering they have an expiry date. What stays forever is a book that changes us or a song that helped us come out of a depression. The best gift to a homeless person could be a new skill which can help him find a job. Organize classes through your local shelter for carpentry, plumbing, typing, child care, health and even a new language. Work as a community, gather together and pass on the knowledge and skills to those in need.
Yes, off course homeless people need money but what they really want is some respect and attention. The loss of dignity is far more hurtful than loss of physical things like home. Take homeless people to your place of worship during the holidays. Organize an outing for homeless children, take them to your home and let them watch Christmas movies with warm food and snugly blankets. There are many ways to give love and spread joy and make holidays happier for someone else.
One of the first steps you can take towards helping the homeless is by understanding how they got there. Many people believe that homeless people are lazy, uneducated, and unemployable. They also blindly assume that they could be fighting a severe mental illness or drug addiction.
However, the vast majority of America’s homeless population have become homeless due to a life-altering event, such as job loss, medical or health emergency, divorce, domestic abuse, or the loss of a primary income earner. There are certain things beyond human control and we should show some respect to those people. If you already know this, educate others about homelessness, and help combat the stereotypes.
One of the simplest and most effective ways to lift the spirits of people experiencing homelessness is kindness. Do you often walk away from a homeless person as if they were invisible? Stop, look at them and smile. Say something like, “I hope you have a good day” or “May God bless you”, a little positive affirmation can go a very long way in boosting their morale. Only a few minutes of a conversation can make a homeless person feel respected and acknowledged.
To sum up, there are many ways to help those experiencing homelessness this holiday season. Get out there and infuse the “happy” in the “holidays” of a homeless person.