It’s almost Christmas so most people are in a more “giving” spirit but I try to keep that attitude all year long if I can. I find that at Christmas, my heart aches a little more for those in need. Living in DC, I come in contact with the homeless constantly. It’s hard to decide when to give a few dollars or when to keep walking. You can’t give money to everyone and you often pass the same people everyday.

I always think to myself, that person has a mother, that person was once a baby, that person at some point lost their hope. I wonder if they are mentally ill or if they became mentally ill because of doing drugs or because of something beyond their control. I wonder if there really are scams where people collect a ton of money from sitting outside begging. You hear about those, you know? But, I can’t imagine someone putting themselves in that situation if they didn’t have to be. I wonder how many of the people will use my money for alcohol or drugs instead of food.

But, then, I realized…my $2 or $3 isn’t going to be missed and I’d rather risk losing it then pass up the opportunity to help someone who really, truly needs it. 

Several years ago, a woman begged me for money and claimed to be pregnant. She said she needed food to feed herself and her baby. I had no cash at the time but lived nearby so I ran home and made up two full lunches with turkey sandwiches, apples and granola bars. I ran back to where I’d seen her and tracked her down after about 30 minutes. I tried to give her the lunches but she wouldn’t take them. She said she only wanted money. That situation has stuck with me for a long time. She wouldn’t even take the free food? I didn’t understand. It didn’t discourage me from giving but it made me feel strange.

There’s a woman whose been sitting in the metro station lately with her 4 or 5-year-old daughter and a baby, with a sign asking for food and money. How can I just walk on by? But I’ve only stopped to give her money once. I feel like my bit of money can’t possibly help this woman and her children. What happened to them? There are so many needy people that if you let yourself think about it, it’s overwhelming, it’s heartbreaking, it can make you feel frozen in helplessness.

I thought of this post in part because lately, when Rick and I have been shopping or somewhere buying something and they have an option to “donate $5 to end hunger” or “give $1 to help a child in need,” he’s been picking up the coupon to do so. It’s something I never did much in the past, but it’s such a great, simple way to add a little bit of good to the world. The other reason was because of this video, which made me think of the many souls I pass on the sidewalks each day:

Personally, I have a sponsored child in Ethiopia through Compassion International. I send money each month and we exchange letters on occasion. If someone asks me for money for a good cause, I try to give a little because if everyone did, it would make a BIG difference. I love knowing that I attend a church so committed to social justice and community service so I know my tithe goes a long way in DC.

This isn’t to tell the world about my giving habits, it’s just something I’ve been thinking about. I know I could more than I do and most people I know could do the same. I always think about how $10 is something I easily spend on two lattes or would blow on a mediocre lunch mid-week. Isn’t that something that could be spared? Yes, always. I’ve been fortunate enough to never have financial difficulties in any real way and I will probably always be okay. I’m a lucky one — in a million ways, I’m a lucky one. I see videos like this (please take a few minutes watch this, it’s worth it but is unable to be embedded), I see how much more I could be doing.

 “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:17-18

There is no real conclusion to this post, just getting my thoughts out there. I often feel guilty for being so blessed, and for not doing enough. But, since I’ve started doing more for others in the past year or so, I’ve realized that you will never feel like you are doing enough. There’s so much need in the world and you’ll never be able to fix it all. In the meantime, you just have to do your best. If everyone did just a little more it could make a big difference. I encourage you to think about how you can do or give “a little” more this month. And I don’t know about you, but I hope that along with a few dollars, I can give someone some desperately needed love, respect and dignity. It’s the dignity that’s often lost. Say hello — these are human beings, the same as you.

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