Sunday, February 8, 2009
Alex, at 9 years old, has a sensitivity toward the disadvantaged that I've rarely seen in children. He's particularly attuned to the needs of homeless people.
At least weekly, he independently mentions something we should do for homeless people. In fact, he even heads up little projects without us ever saying a word.
For example, the other day we finished off a large bottle of apple juice. He washed the bottle, filled it with water and put it in the refrigerator. "This is for the homeless people," he told me.
Karina was driving around town with the kids and they all got too hungry to wait to eat until they got home. Being that they had extremely limited funds for eating out at the time and very rarely had the privilege of doing so, they decided to get 4 hamburgers from the dollar menu at Wendy's: one for Alex, one for Libby, and 2 for Karina.
A short time later they pulled up to a stop light corner with a homeless man holding a sign that he was hungry and wanted food. Karina was just taking a bite into her second hamburger and was immediately struck with guilt and compassion and gratitude.
She rolled down her window and asked the man if he dared eat off of her partially-eaten hamburger. At the same time, Alex was clamoring for the opportunity to do the same thing. He was so eager to give up his half-eaten hamburger.
The man was thrilled to take it, saying that he would be grateful for anything, and as we pulled away he took a bite of that hamburger and looked like he was thoroughly enjoying it.
On another outing, Karina had put together treat bags for the kids, with chocolate and nuts and pretzels and other things. They weren't cheap. They were meant to keep the kids happy in the car for a long day of travel.
But sure enough, Alex spotted a homeless man across the way at an intersection and insisted that he give his bag to him. She told Alex they would catch him on their way back, but when they returned, he was gone. Alex said, "Let's find him."
They were looking all around, he just had to find this man, and sure enough, they spotted a man walking down a road that they thought was him. Karina was embarrassed to have to ask him, "Were you the man that was over on that street corner?"
He was! Alex was thrilled, and by then we were all inspired to put all our treats into one bag and give them to him.
There's rarely a time when we stop at a corner with a homeless person that Alex isn't looking all around the car for something to give to them, anything that may be useful to them.