Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Thanksgiving Challenge

This morning, I’m waking up to another snowy day in Seattle. It’s beautiful outside, but the white flakes don’t obscure my literal view of a homeless man sleeping in the doorway across from my building.

In the midst of our thankfulness, people are hurting. And the hurt is palpable on a day like today.

The snow continues to drift down, reminding me that while it’s important to be thankful for the goodness in our lives, counting our blessings is also a call to action. A call to reach out to those in need in physical and emotional ways. We shouldn’t be blind to the world around us. To that man sleeping in the snowy doorway. But I don't know what I should do for him.

Later in the morning, I look out the window, toward where I had first noticed the sleeping man. Someone kinder and braver than me has left a fast-food bag near him. I hope it has something hot inside, something to get him started on this hard, hard day in the snow.

This simple gesture gets me thinking again about all the things I could have and should have done to help. But in a bigger sense, I’m thinking about what, besides my stories, I can give to the world to ease suffering. It’s a challenge all of us should consider.

It’s almost time to leave to see my family now and my apartment smells like my grandparents’ house, the corn pudding casserole getting all golden in the oven, overtaking the last remnants of morning coffee's perfume.

I’m ready to bundle up and venture into the snowy streets, counting my blessings with each step. I have much to be thankful for and a new challenge on my heart.


Giveaway: In comments, please list a way you could help homeless or hurting people in your community this winter. One lucky commenter will win signed copies of *both* The Clearing and Never Cry Werewolf. Good luck! Winners announced on Sunday.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone...

The Clearing - PNBA short-list 2011 - Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Never Cry Werewolf - Harperteen 2009
Wherever You Go - Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Fall 2011


Alissa said...

I can help hurting people in my community by participating in a fundraiser to give local children a Christmas that they'd otherwise be unable to afford; I sponsor a child and provide them with presents.

thegrammariansreviews (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Steph said...

I can help people in my community by letting them know that someone out there does care and is looking out for them. Even though I may not be able to connect with them and their situations, I can be there to just listen and be the person they express their frustrations to. I know how it feels to be alone, but I have moved past that. I can help people in my community by showing them that I understand and am there for them during any rough spots in their lives.

Another way I can help people in my community is to volunteer to cook Thanksgiving dinner for a local shelter. My church usually cooks a meal for them and anyone in the congregation who is willing can volunteer to help cook a meal. Anyone who doesn't or cannot assist in cooking can also give to one of the monthly donations we have during the offering.

Steph said...

Oh, and, by the way, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

Jessica said...

I like to think that I help out both homeless and hurting people through my job everyday. I work at a public library and we provide a warm, safe place for the homeless to come during the day when the shelters are not open. A lot of people really hate seeing them at the library, until they consider the alternative. They could be huddled outside in the snow all day long! We also do a lot of food drives, free classes, etc. that help out people in the community that need assistance.

Happy Thanksgiving Heather! Glad you and your family are safe and warm. :)

Llehn said...

I could help the homeless by donating my time to our local Soup Kitchen.


sunnynikki said...

Make some blankets so that when they have to sleep outside they can be a little warmer, donate them to a shelter to be passed out.

Unknown said...

I donate food for the food drive at work. The cast of the show I work on adopts a family for Christmas. We raise money and buy gifts for every member of the family.
Instead of doing the Turkey Day 5K I got together with friends for a 3 mile run/walk around the park. The money I saved signing up for a race will go to the United Way

TinaFerraro said...

Hi, Heather! I donate regularly to feed-the-hungry charities. In fact, our local food bank just put out a distress call last week, and I participated in a can drive, and this week will follow up by starting my own for them.

MannaB said...

i could donate fuzzy blankets to the local homeless shelter.

Anna said...

I've been thinking about this a lot too and something i learned was that a high percentage of homeless people are actually veterans who've returned from the war and are mentally unstable because of that. I think the best thing I could do was to donate used things to places that help homeless people, or just give them to them myself, my family has an excess of blankets and such, old clothes, (mainly for children) but there are just as many children who need help too. But we also have to think about all of the animals that are out there as well, all of those dogs and cats that have no owners or have owners that just leave them out in the cold. The only thing we can do for them is to provide money to the foundations that supports them once they've been found and hope that they will be found in time. Maybe all we need is something like Penny's idea in Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog, a homeless shelter to house those most in need in times when they can't regularly do what they do day by day. There's really not a whole lot one can do by themselves but if we all work together here in Seattle maybe we can change the life of a few of these people, and maybe just a few is small in the long run, but they will be happy and that's the point of the holiday season, to make someone else happy.