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Rarely There

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Dare to Care

[ this post written for DMC]

At the risk of appearing to be an irrational chicken, let me continue with the post...

Some evenings when I am driving home and not taking the bus, I pass this particular traffic signal. Sometimes the light is red and I stop as required. And right at the same corner spot I see an elderly gentleman looking defeated and hopeless, yet, standing there in his inadequate jacket that barely shields him against the winter winds and the icy rains, holding up a tattered and soggy sign with barely legible letters: VETERAN. HOMELESS. HELP.

I have not had the courage to approach this homeless elderly veteran so far and extend some form of personal hand by way of conversation and aid. I simply pass by sending a silent prayer skywards. I have this irrational fear that he would take it the wrong way, scoff or outright yell at me for trying to give him what I can afford and offer at that time. Very Silly. I agree.

So far, we have been doing what little we can by way of charity in what can be construed as a fairly detached and anonymous way. It is easy to send a check to my parents who visit their local charities in Chennai, India (Udavum Karangal, or Vishranthi or any number of such charities in their city) on special days and dispense much-needed items there.

It is easy enough to pick a charity (local/nationwide/international) and send what we can - handmade crochet items, blankets, clothes, coats or even just a check. Dropping off non-perishables at Oregon Food Bank (OFB) collection points, and giving away old coats and blankets to Portland Rescue Mission (PRM) has been easy enough.

All very normal and behind the scenes. But, not hands-on. Fairly impersonal.

But browsing the items from PRM's Wish List for dropping off at their office had me exploring their website for the first time. And, something in PRM's website struck a cord in me - a practical suggestion: have a nutritious granola bar or something handy, attach a couple of TriMet bus tickets to the bar, add a coupon with meal times and directions to PRM, approach with a smile and offer "Would you like this bar of snack?".

I still haven't mustered up the courage to approach this gent. It is less painful to watch for the light to turn green and step on the accelerator. But, I do have a few granola bars, Trimet tickets and PRM's coupons handy in my purse. Perhaps I will finally have the courage to roll down my window and extend a granola-bar-laden hand his way, praying that he will accept it...

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