Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Best Calorie Free Treat

Yesterday, after I left the gym, I stopped at Trader Joe's to pick up some groceries. On the way out, I saw this homeless man and he asked me for some change. I literally only had 32 cents.

32 cents is not going to get anyone any where or any thing.

I said, "Are you hungry, do you want a sandwich?" He looked completely shocked. "Yes," he said. "Turkey? Do you want turkey?" (I tend to take charge of things).

He said what he really wanted, and let me know I could get for the same price, was a Pizza Hut Personal Pan pizza... pepperoni.

I just thought... there was something so sweet about that.

I asked him if he would like a soda, too. Again, he looked at me with such a sense of surprise, it let me know the moments of compassion in this man's life were few and far between.

Lately, I've been thinking of all the things I have and how frickin' lucky and blessed I am. I don't even mean monetary. I have clothes, I have shelter, a hot shower every day. I have health care. I have friends who love me. I have a job.

We forget about the little things. Or, I guess I should say, we forget about the big things.

I did this little bit of volunteering and this girl emailed me saying I would never know what it meant to her what I had done for her. I told her - she would never know what it did for me. Just like that man yesterday, it totally filled me up...

So, it's right before the holidays and we are all hustling and bustling. But I wanted to give you guys some super ways to help other people that are easy and will fill YOU up and make you happier than 2 Twinkies and a glass of milk:

1) Ask everyone in your office to give you their old magazines. Then drop them off at a hospital, clinic or dialysis center. You will be loved!

2) If you're gathering friends for a holiday party, ask everyone to bring some clothes they don't wear and set them aside and then take them to a women's shelter. The women will act like you just gave them the keys to Macy's, that's how appreciative they are!

3) If you know someone in your neighborhood is sick, offer to walk their pet.

4) Tossing out some old sheets or blankets? Take them to your local pet shelter.

5) Keep a couple of McDonald's $1 gift cards and if you see someone who asks you if you can spare some change, buy them lunch instead. Smile, you just made someone feel like they matter.

6) There is a man who comes on my street looking for cans and bottles to turn in for change. Some days I see him with his 6 year old son and that breaks my heart. Now I keep my bottles and cans aside and give them to him when I see him so he doesn't have to rummage in a 4 ft. bin.

7) Do you have a winter coat you never wear? I think I have more than I need. You can donate your extra coat to a shelter, you can give it to someone in need (maybe keep it in your car, trust me, you'll find someone), also, there are winter coat drives - search for one online.

8) This is reader Noble Savage's awesome idea. "Last year I made up 15 Christmas packages for the homeless, each one with a pair of gloves, a scarf, a warm hat, a chocolate bar, a first aid kit and some toiletries. It was very rewarding and I got everything from thrift stores or dollar stores. The looks on their faces when I handed them a gift and walked away was priceless."

9) Sponsor a family for a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. Call a shelter, Vet center or search online. You can send an email to five friends and ask them to pitch in $10 dollars each. That $60 dollars will feed a whole family (maybe more) and make them be able to stay home and have a real family Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Have I overwhelmed you? Given you too many ideas? Well, you're in luck!

I'm going to give you the name of the shelter where I am sponsoring a family. I just sent a mass email to all my friends, so the hope is I might be able to sponsor 3 or 4 families. Feel free to grab an envelope, put ten bucks in it and send it off right now.

Here's the info: Amanecer Community Services Administrative Offices, 1200 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 500, Los Angeles, CA 90017. Attention: Laura Gonzalez. Tell her the money is to sponsor a family for Christmas dinner.

You will feel so good making a difference, putting a smile on someone's face and most importantly, making someone feel like they are loved.

This blog is dedicated to little bits of love.

If you do something kind... even if it's in a week or a month from now, write back in and inspire us with your story.