Earlier this year, my neighbor (friend) and I went to lunch at a diner in the next town over when we became aware of this homeless man sitting in the corner booth. After inquiring about him to the waitress, we discovered that the owner of the diner allows him to sit in the corner booth while they are open and they give him coffee to drink and to warm up when it’s cold outside. Before we left that day, we gave the owner some money to keep an “account” for him to eat meals when he needs them. My friend has been to the diner several times since then and always sees this man sitting in the corner. Since then, she learned that his name is Orville, and he used to stay in an abandoned building in the town where the diner is located, but the owners sold the building this month and threw out all of his belongings. He has sporadic employment by a man in the town who gives him odd jobs whenever he can, but usually only for a few days at a time. We do not know if Orville has a family or what happened to them. Earlier this month, my friend came up with a fabulous idea; she asked me if I wanted to go in with her on a gift for this man. Are you kidding? Of course I would!
We bought a gym bag and stuffed it with many things we thought a homeless person could use – a warm blanket, small smiley pillow, shaving cream and razors, toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, Band-aids, socks, a pair of shoes, a flannel shirt, lotion for dry hands, Chapstick, hat, gloves, snacks, trail mix, Tylenol, Advil and cough drops. Her sons gave him lollipops, a handful of change, and a handmade bracelet.
We considered how we would get this gift to Orville. The best idea we came up with was delivering the bag to the diner and having the ladies there give it to him when they next saw him. Earlier today, we piled the kids in the car and headed to the diner. To our great delight (and in the perfect order of the Universe) we drove past Orville walking down the street in the town. We pulled over immediately, all piled out of the car and called him over, presenting him with our gift. He was so touched he had tears in his piercing blue eyes which are the color of glaciers. Orville walked halfway down the next block, put the bag down and went through all the items right there on the sidewalk. It was wonderful to give this gift to him, and to also give this gift of generosity to ourselves and to our children. There is so much need in this world and there is so much each of us can do to help. Our effort today might not have moved mountains, but I am quite sure it warmed Orville’s heart. When I snuggle down in my bed this evening, I will say a prayer of gratitude for the countless blessings of my life and hope that tonight, perhaps Orville will also feel loved and cared for.
I will not take any credit for doing this today, for it was the brainchild of my dear friend. I was simply her accomplice, and therein lies the magic. I work tirelessly to attract and surround myself by people who, each day, support and inspire me to be a better person, and my life is richer for knowing each of them.
Another effort that I participated in this week was called the Compassion Collective, and was the idea of Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, Rob Bell, Cheryl Strayed, and Glennon Doyle Melton. They wanted to raise money for the refugees in Europe. They asked people to donate to their effort to raise $1Million dollars in 48 hours, but the catch was that no one could donate more than $25. They reached their goal in well under 48 hours and made a loud statement that each of us really does have the power to change the world – when we come together.
If you get a chance to read this before your holiday festivities begin, I encourage you to let go of all the stress and worry that you might be feeling to make this holiday “perfect.” Let go of that need for perfection and remind yourself how blessed you really are. And may you make many warm, wonderful memories that will warm your heart for years to come. Being together with people you love and who love you is really what it’s all about, isn’t it? And maybe, just maybe, you can find some small but special way to brighten someone’s day before 2015 comes to a close!