As you may be aware, we live in Downtown Dayton. In case you think that is glamorous, remember, its Dayton. When we moved here it was fun and exciting to live *Downtown.* I guess it still is. You also may be aware that we've toyed with the idea of fleeing to the suburbs like most normal people. But thanks to the housing market, that decision was made for us. I could go on and on about the things that I get INSANELY jealous of when I go to a friend's house in the 'burbs. You know, the spacious back yard. The trampoline roughly the size of an igloo. The cul de sac their kids ride their bike on. I could go on and on but I'll spare you.
I could also go on and on about the things I lreally like about living in the city. The diversity, both racially and economically. Our cool historic home. The fact that our street may end up on the local news crime report most nights. (Oh, I kid! mostly)
Recently, our newspaper reported that homelessness is up 200% in our city. That didn't really surprise me. Our neighborhood is about 900 ft. from an on ramp to one of the highways. And beginning about a year ago it became a hot spot for pan handlers. I'm not exactly sure why, but I have my theories. There are several homeless shelters nearby and my guess is many of the panhandlers stand on our corner by day and sleep there by night.
Sometime in the spring I decided to start buying a boatload of bars (granola, fiber, chewy, whatever I can get for real cheap) and keep them in the van. Whenever we stop at a red light and someone is there, we give them a bar. Most are appreciative. All accept. I had a similar plan when I lived in NYC. Loads of people pan handle on the subway. Because I couldn't be sure where the cash would go, I always kept some bars in my backpack. I could always tell the truly needy from the swindlers by who would graciously accept the bar and who would laugh me off the train. Its interesting how here, nobody refuses.
Its also interesting that for the past 7 or so months my kids have gotten into the act. WHENEVER we see someone on the corner (even when its a far away corner or an opposite corner that would be impossible to reach... outside of launching a Fiber One Bar at their head) they all three start yelling "Give that guy a bar, mom"!!! Depending on how long the light is or how safe I feel, we even ask for their name and let them know that we'll pray for them. As we drive away we pray for the person by name.
Today the boys and I were on our way to pick Olivia up from school. We got off the highway and stopped at a light where a guy was sitting. His sign read, "Anything helps." So I rolled down my window and told him we had a granola bar to offer. He was a young guy with a very pleasant smile. The boys (Ummm... Quinn) was yelling, "Ask his name, MOM!" The guy heard and he got a delighted smile on his face and asked me, "Did he say he wants to know my name?"
I said yes and explained that we like to give out bars to people in need and often we get their name and pray for them on our way. So I asked for his name and he told us he was Jared. I rolled down the windows and the boys yelled, "Bye, Jared!" Jared smiled and waved.
And then a semi came barrelling down the exit ramp, the light turned green and the truck honked so loud the boys started crying.
Yep, I love city life!
** disclaimer** lest you think this is a toot my own horn, look at me, I'm such a good person post, its not. I just wanted to express my thoughts on one practical way we can look out for others right where we live. There are about 10,000 other ways I really suck at this, just fyi.