The city had closed down but the homeless had lined up. Whatever made me think the lines would be shorter this particularly snowy and icy Wednesday afternoon was without merit. Lifting the back gate of my Acura, it became clear we had some folks in need. My son, Trip and his friend, Ben quickly learned the ropes and were dispensing the hygiene items from the bins as each person slid their bag into their hands. Swiftly it was filled with their requests. My job was the same; give hugs with hope, help dispense with the despair, and listen with undivided attention. This is our community. We are like the United States Postal Service. Through rain or sleet or snow, we must show. And show we must with compassion. Not just by handing out product but by caring. The most difficult part is deciding who needs the limited winter clothing supplies we have. Men shivering in the cold with only a fleece to keep them warm needed warm coats we didn't have but when we added a layer of hoodies and sweatshirts, the extra layers added a touch of warmth. We just lacked enough to go around. Seven Bridges, the organization providing a hot meal and the word of God was iced in and unable to make it. About 75 of the destitute accepted it gracefully and moved along to find warmth in abandoned houses and shelters as we moved along to our second stop where we served about 17 men and women. They live mostly on the bridge and they were cold and hungry. Noting a Church's Chicken open, we bought boxed dinners and returned. The smell alone was a beacon of comfort. As we dispensed with the hygiene items and stamped our feet to keep our own toes from going numb, we thought of the hot chocolate we would drink around the fire at home. And our friends from the bridge? They were home. They had only to get snuggled in their sleeping bags under the tarps in the elements. Is this really the best we can do? I think not. We have work to do.
Bankhead Service Station, Atlanta, GA