Saturday, August 4, 2012

Plenty & Need


So, I haven't kept up with this over the summer, and that's totally on me. I don't even know why. I have plenty I could write about! Been making homemade soda syrups for my husband out of fruit. Spray painted a few things including a cheese grater that I turned into an earring holder. Today I'm making my first peach cobbler of the summer (long overdue). Life has also been quite fast-paced. I honestly don't know where this summer has gone! 

Also, we're moving this month, so I knew I needed to get a post in before that all goes crazy.

But today I wanted to shift the focus from my quirky life to the lives of others. 

I've been thinking a lot lately of those in need and those who have plenty.
Okay, I'm sure some of you are rolling your eyes and you think this is going to be some Bruce Wayne vs. Bane thing... it's not.

Specifically when I say those who have plenty, I don't mean rich people.
I mean hoarders.

What do you do when a family member or close friend is a hoarder? 
I mean, first off... you don't want to say, "Hey, you're a hoarder. Get rid of your crap."

Anyhow, my husband and I are naturally folks who purge our possessions regularly of anything that does not have a purpose or is not of value to us in a sentimental or edifying way. We don't understand why one would hold onto things that we have duplicates of (having multiple sets of silverware or multiple complete sets of glassware) or will probably never use again. We didn't get wedding china because we knew we'd never use it. That's just the kind of people we are. We're the "get down to brass tacks" kind of people in multiple senses of the phrase.

Do not mistake me - I'm not saying that we're better than anyone because of that. No. What I'm saying is, we're just unsure of how to address it in other's lives, especially when it's going to affect their life and our life when we will soon be sharing the same space.

I feel deep down I will have to say something along the lines of, "Do you need this? How could this [insert name of thing here] help someone else who could really benefit from it? Couldn't we sell or donate this to a person who needs it more than you?"

Well, I hope that conversation goes smoothly.

In contrast, what do we do about the homeless? 

I hear so many people talking about how they don't want to give cash to a homeless individual because it may not actually help them. I have often struggled with this as well. Especially when you see some homeless smoking a cigarette or talking on their cell phone. Or, when you see one homeless lady sitting in the same area for over ten years with the same sign that says "need money to pay for rent & feed my kids" sitting in her stroller (same stroller for that amount of time too). It makes you wonder if their story is real, if they truly do need your money.

Some would say you're not supposed to question if their story is true or not, you're just supposed to give them money because they say they're in need. I'm not sure if I'm ready to get on board with that logic. 

So what can we do? My husband and I have wrestled with this for a bit now.

Our first thoughts are, instead of giving money, why not give the essentials to those in need: food & water (and perhaps toothpaste and toothbrushes?).

But how? That's where I'd like some feedback. 
How do you keep yourself prepared for that needy person sitting at the stop-light? 

We've thought about coupons to local grocery stores or fast food places. We've also considered keeping water or non-perishables with us to give (but there are few non-perishables that you can keep in a car and hand to a person that they can consume without cooking). 

Today I just found a rebuttal to our thoughts on giving essentials instead of money: http://www.thehomelessgirl.com/2010/07/giving-just-food-to-panhandlers-is-lazy-selfish-and-predictable/.
Not sure how I feel about this rebuttal. . .

So how does one handle hoarders and homeless? These are the questions I ask today.

[[ in addition, here's a thoughtful list of general ideas on helping the homeless among us: https://www.justgive.org/donations/help-homeless.jsp ]]

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