Going to Feed the Homeless This Holiday? They Need Help on Other Days, Too Going to Feed the Homeless This Holiday? They Need Help on Other Days, Too
Going to Feed the Homeless This Holiday? They Need Help on Other Days, Too
This week from Wednesday through Sunday, thousands of people from all over Los Angeles will descend on Skid Row. There will be tens of thousands of meals handed out by the shelters, groups, and individuals who want to celebrate Thanksgiving by sharing food with the homeless.
There will be so many volunteers that you won't know who from who on Skid Row and there will be so much food given out that a lot of it will go to waste. As a friend who used to feed on Thanksgiving told me, "Finding a homeless man who hasn't eaten on Thanksgiving is like finding gold!"
Please don't get me wrong. I don't see anything wrong with sharing food with the homeless or anyone. Far from it—as I'm writing this, Monday Night Mission has gone to Skid Row 234 days so far in 2013 just to feed the homeless. The problem I have is that there is so much emphasis on giving on Thanksgiving but then, magically, nothing afterwards.
Also this is not for those committed people who serve through the year and who also serve on Thanksgiving. Those individuals I consider to be amazing. I'm talking about the thousands who just choose Thanksgiving to do their good and be grateful but suddenly forget the next week.
Firstly, when these volunteers come to Skid Row, they are not going to see the real Skid Row. They are going to see a Skid Row that's safer and cleaner with tons of volunteers. When they see the homeless people, they are going to be the happiest you'll ever see them. They'll be full, they'll have received tons of gifts. If you never visited Skid Row before, you are going to walk away thinking Skid Row is not that bad.
See, 363 days out of the year most people in Los Angeles call the homeless people bums and losers. Last week I heard from a friend of mine, Quinn, that someone actually peed on him while he was sleeping on the sidewalk. People in L.A. actually believe people choose to be homeless, so they don't have to help. But the reality of what goes on in Skid Row is far from what it is on Thanksgiving.
Children get stolen, women get raped and raped again, and the men get beaten if not killed. And this happens way too often. People see Skid Row on Thanksgiving and assume that the people there are fed, when in reality when we were there last week we had men and women wait over 45 minutes in line just to get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the rain.
Would you ever wait 45 minutes in a line for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when it's 55 degrees and raining?
The other thing is the tragic situations that most of these people have gone through to end up homeless. You are never going to hear their stories on Thanksgiving. Not on one of the only two days of the year that they will be happy.
Lastly, and I think the worst, is how the people on Skid Row will feel. How would you feel if people came in the thousands to see you and feed you for 3 days and then started treating you like shit the week after?
This is what I will ask of you!
If you planned on going to Skid Row for the first time this year on Thanksgiving, please do!
Understand that though the people you meet might not be your family, that they are someone's brother or sister, father or mother, and always someone's son or daughter. Understand that this could happen to you too if not for one of your own loved ones.
See them and promise yourself that you will never use the words bum or loser again.
Talk to every homeless person you can. Hug every homeless person you can and promise them one thing. Promise them that you will be back to help them when the holidays are over and keep that promise!
How Tonga Got Hooked Up The day the king turned on the internet
Couture Collection Uses Wind Reactive Ink A London artist collective's clothing line changes color according to environmental stimuli.
Finally, a Cat Mag for the Creative Class Firmly in control of the internets, our feline overlords move to conquer print media.
Text Messages You Can Smell This company's device and app allows you to send scents through your phone.
This Tree Produces Forty Types of Fruit The living, edible art of Sam Van Aken's grafted stone fruit experiment
Dear 14-Year-Old Me The intuitive, emotional side of yourself guides your experiences and shapes how you learn. You grasp information viscerally, which can make traditional schooling a little bit harder for you.
Danish Architects Reimagine the Zoo The search for a more ethical wildlife park
Learning to Farm Fish Responsibly Breakthroughs in aquaculture are winning over longtime skeptics.
Stories for Boys Sundance-winner Rich Hill picks up where Linklater left off.
The Human Side of Spam Spanish photographer Christina de Middel smudges fact and fiction with her staged images of Russian widows and Nigerian lawyers in distress.
Why Oysters are Shacking up in Old Subway Cars States scrap over metal in a race to boast the greenest reef.
A Cable Car Revolution in the World’s Highest City The future of Bolivia’s public transportation takes to the skies.