The alarm sounds and I dread rolling over. Unsure of what time I told myself that I would wake up and prepare for Feed the Homeless Wars Round 2, but fairly certain I was running late I finally lull myself out of bed. Lulled was the only way I was getting out of comfort this morning. There was no way dragging myself was going to work. To top it off, I had yet to purchase the bread and lunch meat to make sandwiches. I had taken procrastination to another level! Truth be told, I was waiting to see how many donations would roll in for Lamb ER Kay’s 2nd Annual Feed the Homeless Wars. I started this War (something that certainly describes difficult) two years ago while I had been thinking about all of the times I was almost homeless, could have been homeless, and the times that I was homeless. Thinking about how fortunate I had been to once have. Then to have lost only to have again. These thoughts led me to want to make sandwiches for me and my business partner to hand out to the homeless. There was no major group sponsor or affiliations. Just two girls walking the streets of San Francisco looking for hungry homeless mouths to feed. The 1st Annual Feed the Homeless Wars was a huge challenge and this year in NYC proved to be just as challenging.
People think its easy to walk around with a bag of homemade sandwiches to dish out to the homeless. NOT! First of all there is the constant thought that they won’t eat the sandwiches because they will think you are trying to poison them and that would be a waste of money AND a waste of food but not really a waste because time for a good cause is never a waste! Then there is that understanding that they are homeless and homeless for a reason and may or may not have all of their marbles in the same safety net, you know what I mean?
The issue that seems to make this such a challenge though is how difficult it is to locate the homeless. I mean, they don’t have addresses and it seems that when you are looking for the homeless, you can’t find them! Let you have $5 that you have committed to giving to the next homeless person you see and that will be the day that you go to work, ride the subway, and arrive home without coming across a single homeless person. However, let that be the day you forgot your wallet and every subway cart will sell you a story that you have heard a thousand times on how they are waiting for welfare and didn’t get EMERGENCY food stamps Friday night BEFORE the weekend.
Which I would like to note is a great possibility as the welfare offices are pretty much crap and a big looptie loo to keep people in a circle called “Going nowhere NO time soon!”
Every other day you will come across homeless begging for change, in front of the McDonald’s in Times Square, all over NY like it is your routine morning cup of Joe. The homeless in NY seem to be everywhere and nowhere you need them to be present when you have something to give. Why? I don’t know. I guess the homeless have things to do!
Just a little homeless humor.
Reality is the homeless do have things to do; exert an action plan on how NOT to be homeless. That is more than just a lofty task for most of them. How does one find a job with gangrene eating their ankles?
The first time we fed the homeless in San Fran it was raining. That didn’t deter our mission to feed the homeless. We stepped out in our rubber boots, hopped on the Bart with sandwiches in tow, and sought the homeless out head on. Well, it was rainy, windy, and cold in San Fran and it appeared that the homeless had well…went indoors. For the life of us we could not understand why the streets were so bare. Where do the homeless go when they don’t feel like being outdoors?
We really never found the answer to that question nor did we find enough homeless people to feed. We did come across people more than once in which we decided to give them seconds, thirds, and fourths if they wanted. Heck we didn’t care, so long as their bellies were full. We even saved a few for anyone we came across on the way home. Needless to say, we returned home with a few sandwiches.
So when the weather showed its ugly head with clouds of rain I thought that it would be another rainy war round 2. The rain showed sunshine but feeding the homeless was still a war.
I started out in Bryant Park. That was the appointed meeting location. I figured that Bryant Park would be a great place to find a few hungry mouths. Nope, I didn’t plan for Bryant Park being filled with tourists and NYC locals ready to brave the ice midday. So I snapped a few selfies in between sips of java and kept searching. Onwards to Grand Central. There are always people begging for change outside of Grand Central. I crossed the street with excitement brewing in my belly as I approached my first obvious hungry mouth to feed. Now don’t go assuming that it is easy to tell if someone is hungry and homeless. You have to read the signs and I don’t mean non verbal. I mean genuinely read their signs. Hungry mouth #1 had a sign needing change for a bus ticket. I deemed him hungry and gave him two sandwiches and walked away. As I start hitting my stride feeling good about the last hungry mouth that will at least have something to eat today I see Hungry Mouth #2, a black man in a wheel chair. I give him two sandwiches and I can’t help but wonder, “Why is he in a wheel chair?” As well as, “I wonder why he is homeless.” There isn’t much time to talk today though. My hands are cold and I have to distribute every single sandwich before rushing home for a fashion event. He takes the sandwiches, says, “God bless you,” in which I reply the same and keep trucking in pursuit of the next hungry mouth.
I swing around the right side of the building confident I will find at least two more hungry mouths, but I don’t. Now the struggle is getting real. There probably won’t be many homeless people North of 42nd on the East side. I head over to the West Side not seeing much in Times Square and not really wanting to. Times Square is great for tourists por mal bueno for designers on a mission.
HALT!!!! My holiday giving spirit has breeched the homeless as I think about a fear friend stuck at work in the cold. I take a break to head over to Duane Reade seeing that they have his favorite java and poor a cup with French Vanilla just like I think he likes it. I hope he likes it. I walk over to where he works and can’t find him either. Geez, we are heading into WW3!
Regardless I do not stop. I continue my mission with a cup of now chilled java though I realize that I am running out of time and need to head home to get dressed. I hop on the train with half of the sandwiches in tow. Not sure when or how I will be able to distribute the remaining goods but I know how to go with the flow and flow I do. Once I arrive home I get pretty for the evening and pack the sandwiches for round 3 of round 2.
My entire subway ride back to the city was filled with no homeless. It is crunch time now. I have approximately 15 minutes from the train to the door of The Taste of The Runway to get rid of the approximately 10 sandwiches. I arrive at the platform. Take the leisure steps down the staircase and see a homeless man begging for change. He gets 3 sandwiches and I want to give him all of them but something tells me not to. I walk out to the drafty NYC streets, cross the street and homeless man number 2 is sitting there with a sign outside of McDonalds. I hand him the last of the sandwiches feeling as if my mission is complete I stride away making a left on to Taste the Runway. A taste I will never forget.
It is not enough in life to be full. I would feel empty being full when out there someone is unsatisfied, not full, not nourished. We should take the time to fill others whether it is from hunger or lack of the nourishments of life. So many are hungry, homeless, broken, and so many more walk around not contributing to society. Out of all of the people that could have joined me in the Feed the Homeless War no one showed up in Bryant Park. I feed the homeless alone. It is up to us to make a difference however and where ever we can, no excuses. If you missed out on this years Feed the Homeless Wars you have next year to join me but you have the next 365 days to feed the homeless.
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