When the holiday season is in full swing, so is giving. But why can’t giving be something we do more of year round?
Just last week, I was driving in Downtown Albuquerque and happened to notice quite a few tents and sleeping bags in the area — there’s something beautiful and symbolic and silently loud about the things people choose to carry when there is only so much they can own.
It reminded me of the fundraisers, donation bins and meal preps that were abundant over the past two months. Awareness was abundant.
Where did all the help go?
It seems like I never hear talk about giving when the holidays are through. Every year, the “giving season” begins with Thanksgiving and ends after the first day of the year. Why can’t that same giving spirit be applied in the New Year?
Maybe it’s just that everyone is in a giving mood during the holidays, or maybe it’s just that people who give don’t realize their gifts won’t last all year.
Do people give during the holidays because they feel guilty or because everyone else is doing it? If anything, people should be giving more when they know others are not.
What troubles me more is the idea that some may simply not understand what it means to be homeless at all.
In the past, people have told me that the homeless got themselves into their situation, are abusing drugs and alcohol intentionally or are simply too lazy to improve their circumstances.
But how can someone say that when they haven’t sat down with that person? How can someone say that if a person has not told their story?
If you’ve ever read The Pursuit of Happyness — the title is misspelled intentionally — by Chris Gardner or similar stories, it’s clear that some people are just dealt unfair cards.
Gardner’s autobiography illustrates his childhood laden with poverty, domestic violence, sexual assault and other hardships. After high school, he joined the Navy and later began working in the finance industry when his son was born. His son’s mother left when the family was not making much money, and Gardner and his son eventually found themselves homeless. Gardner later completed a stock brokerage training program and went on to found his own brokerage firm. Today, he is also a philanthropist and motivational speaker.
Gardner is a brilliant man with plenty of strength and resilience. He never intended to be homeless, but he was able to create a better life for himself and his son. Perhaps with even more tools, he would have been able to improve his life even faster.
Struggling with mental health problems, domestic violence, job loss, loss of a home and a variety of other factors could correlate with homelessness, according to the Homeless Hub website. The site goes on to say, “Homelessness and poverty are inextricably linked. People who are poor are frequently unable to pay for necessities such as housing, food, child care, health care and education. Being poor can mean a person is one illness, one accident or one paycheck away from living on the streets.”
Any one of us could find ourselves with nothing, but we can all find ourselves with something too.
If you are in need or would like to help someone in need, the Good Shepherd Center, Joy Junction and Saint Martin’s Hopeworks (formerly Saint Martin’s Hospitality Center) are a few locations in Albuquerque that offer help to the homeless.
Elizabeth Sanchez is the editor-in-chief at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Beth_A_Sanchez.