Today is Thanksgiving. Mr. G and I volunteered for Gobble Gobble Give. Like last year, there were lines around the block of people waiting to contribute food and sundries, and to volunteer to package up individual meals and deliver them to homeless folk around Los Angeles. We dropped off our contributions at one door, and were handed two boxes full of packaged dinners to deliver at the next door. And then we hit the streets.
Before we headed out I had to inspect what it was we were delivering, and it looked damn good! Turkey, double-stuffed potatoes, pumpkin pie, multigrain rolls, yams-every-which-way, quinoa salads . . . and most of it looked homemade, which means not only is it probably more tasty, but it also has that personal touch. That little bit of "love" cooked in, if you will. It just makes it better, and it's awesome that so many people take the time to cook, prepare and deliver this stuff to those in need.
Like any slice of humanity, the homeless community is a mixed bag. Most people we approached were happy to see us, and gratefully accepted whatever we had to give. But some folks weren't interested: either they'd already eaten, or what they really wanted was money for other purposes, or they just didn't want to be bothered. It felt a little predatory, driving the streets of LA, looking for homeless people. It was surprisingly more difficult than you might think. There didn't seem to be that many people out, and more often than not when we did spot someone, we'd see the telltale styrofoam container telling us that some other do-gooder had gotten to them first! Dang it!
You can't help but wonder what all these peoples' stories are, especially when you have any kind of direct interaction with them. Most of them were perfectly kind and sane, and appreciative. Are they simply down on their luck? Do they have some kind of mental or substance abuse issue that we're simply not seeing at that particular moment? Can they just not function in mainstream society? And is it kind or condescending to drive around offering them food today? What if you offer food to someone who isn't homeless, but just looks that way? Is that insulting? And why don't we do this every day? Maybe we will start doing it every day, or at least year-round.
I especially liked the genteel fellow with the orchid balanced atop his grocery cart who said, "I'm not a terribly grand eater," but gladly accepted a meal; and the guy all wrapped up in blankets reading his books; and the woman sitting in the doorway who wished us a happy Thanksgiving; and the woman with the cool Chinese hat who asked for gloves and socks, and was so happy when we went and bought some and found her again on Wilshire; and the rosy-cheeked woman with the wheelchair by the 99cent store who just sat right down on the sidewalk and dug into her meal.
And I have to say that through his generous actions, once again Mr. G reminded me why I love him. He never hesitated to approach anyone and offer them food and toiletries and clothing, and to ask if there's anything else they wanted/needed for future reference. He considers many of the people we encountered part of his community, which they are of course. He knows he'll see them again, so why not have a box of blankets, socks and cigarettes in the back of your car to hand out when you see them next?