Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Cheerful Holiday Message

It’s the holiday season and that means one thing: News reports showing political officials serving Thanksgiving dinners at soup kitchens and homeless shelters. Very few things get me as upset as this.

Folks, if you want to do a good deed on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day, please don’t pester your local homeless shelter. Stay home and enjoy your turkey and football and family dysfunction.

Several years ago, I was a supervisor in a large housing facility in Chicago that provided hundreds of hot meals every day. Every year at Thanksgiving or Christmas, we would be inundated with folks wanting to volunteer and serve meals on those days. We had to assign extra staff just to take care of all the phone calls.

I remember one woman who got very upset when she showed up to volunteer and it was suggested she help stock the shelves in the kitchen. Oh no! She wanted to work “with” the unfortunate homeless people. I’m sure she envisioned herself benevolently smiling to the less fortunate as she handed them a plate of food.

And yes, city officials made their appearance for the news teams. They’d crowd into the serving line and dish up green beans for half an hour, disrupting the entire operation, and then leave. All for show. They were serving their needs; not their constituents. 

Parents would drag their teenage children there to show them the unfortunate, homeless people in hopes of providing them with a lesson on how good they had it. (The Duggars did the same while visiting Washington D.C. last year.) Then, the parents would get upset when we didn’t have anything for them to do. I really wanted to tell these parents that our facility provided multiple services, but being a zoo wasn’t one of them. (Jim Bob Duggar, take note.)

Yes, volunteers are severely needed at these facilities – year round. There were wonderful people who faithfully showed up all year long to help out and I don’t know what we would have done without them. They answered phones, stocked shelves, unloaded delivery trucks – all behind the scenes.

These facilities serve meals every day and they have their routine down really well. Homeless people are hungry every day. It’s not like there’s a huge surge of them requiring sustenance just because it's a holiday.

If you want your teenager to volunteer, great. Have the little darlings show up every Monday at 7:00 am before school, without fail, so they can unload the delivery truck in the back alley.

On Thanksgiving as you’re enjoying your turkey and gravy and find yourself wanting to help, do your local shelter a real favor.  Stay home, watch the game, and write a check.

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At 2:13 PM , Blogger Bob said...

It's sad that people who say they want to help, actually want to be "seen" helping.
Just help, wherever you can.

At 4:29 PM , Blogger Mom said...


At 1:23 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Very nice and honest, thanks for sharing.


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