"If there’s a world here in a hundred years, it’s going to be saved by tens of millions of little things. The powers-that-be can break up any big thing they want. They can corrupt it or co-opt it from the inside, or they can attack it from the outside. But what are they going to do about 10 million little things? They break up two of them, and three more like them spring up!"
- Pete Seeger, in YES! Magazine

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Donate to Emergency Shelter

The project:
Donate toys, clothes and arts and crafts supplies to emergency housing shelter.

Including clean out, drive time, and drop - 90 minutes.

Why bother?
Statistics are sketchy. After all, it's tough to count people if you can't find them, and without a home to call their own (rented or otherwise), they're difficult to identify. Still, estimates by various agencies seem to have settled on 700,000 to 2 million Americans going without proper shelter every night. Sure, there's a great disparity in the figures, but even if you take the lowest figure, that's a LOT of people without beds to call their own.

Statisticians believe families probably constitute one-third of that population. (Read more here and here, or find your state's info here.) If you expand the definition of "homeless" to include those living in hotels, campgrounds, trailer parks, cars, substandard housing and public places, that estimation rises to 1.5 million children alone, according to a study released March 10, 2009 by the National Center on Family Homelessness.

Crunch the numbers any way you will. All you have to do is open your eyes, drive into any city center, even parks in many rural communities, and you'll see them, the visible homeless, camped out for the day on park benches, sidewalks, street corners before bedding down for the night God only knows where.

Some find their way to shelters. We have one of those shelters in town. It includes a family-specific shelter. Today we opted to contribute goods to that shelter, in hopes of spreading a little joy to the kids there.

Back story on the supplies:

When our youngest was 2, one of my aunts warned me NEVER to buy crayons. "You'll get them at birthday parties and restaurants and every holiday. Seriously. Don't buy them." She was right. Without ever having purchased a crayon, we've collected quite a supply. Ditto markers, pens and pencils (colored and carbon).

It was time to clean out the art corner anyhow, but with visitors on their way I was spurred into action. I split some of our other supplies between our own kids and the kids at the shelter. After all, what good is a box of crayons if there are no coloring books, or at least paper for unique creations.

That done, the girls also selected a few clothes from their closet and drawers and some toys to send.

Worth it?
I think so. I hope the kids in the shelter find enjoyment, peace and perhaps even escape by using these materials. Best of all, our girls' spirit of giving seems to have carried over from their experience feeding people yesterday.

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