I am up past my bedtime and probably wreaking havoc on my melatonin production to bring you this post in a vain attempt to not fall hideously behind. Weekends tend to be photo-ful occasions, but that gives me plenty of material to blog about throughout the week, right? So I’ll be posting several photos but probably not 200 words for each of them because I really truly enjoy sleep.
On Saturday our church was once again in charge of clothing distribution at the Good Neighbors Picnic for the Homeless, though this was my first time actually volunteering. It was monstrously cold and blustery, but that only underscored the importance of getting people the warm clothes they’ll need to make it through another winter.
I spent a bit of time guarding the back gate with Arika and directing people toward the line (see above photo). Arika has a gift for warmth and hospitality, which I encountered full force many moons ago when I first came to Chi Alpha and quickly learned the unique power of a Hawkins Hug. She also majored in photography and is a licensed art teacher, so she is one of my favorite people.
(At one point it started drizzling so we both tucked our camera-babies under our coats and looked quite great with lumpy child.)
Beth then rotated us to shopping hostess, and we guided guests through the line and helped them find clothing in the desired sizes and styles. As I was working the last shift, it was easy to see the area of greatest need:
From what I saw, the ratio was maybe 60:40 men to women, and the big sizes of clothing tended to go quickest. As I was guiding a woman through the line and waiting for her to pick through the piles, I caught myself thinking at least once, “Beggars can’t be choosers…” a refrain echoing what I thought while volunteering at a food pantry several years ago. But once again I remembered that no one should ever have choices taken away from them by circumstances. No one likes cold pancakes. No one likes wearing unflattering clothes. A person’s a person, no matter how small…or XXL.
As things were winding down, we packed the remaining clothes into bags and boxes and into a truck for delivery back to the storage unit. A few stragglers wandered by while we were cleaning up, and I overheard the guest on the left ask if there were any scarves left. I turned around in time to see a volunteer (in the blue) take off her own OSU scarf and tie it around the woman’s neck in a gesture of profound compassion that really touched me. There was an acute shortage of scarves this year, so I think I know what my next knitting mission is going to be.
There was also a volunteer group taking pictures of guests and printing them using mini photo-printers, which is very similar to what I was envisioning last week for some sort of holiday outreach. I’m sure many of our guests as well as our friends in Weinland Park do not get family photos taken very often, or else those photos have been lost in multiple relocations. How nice would it be to help them make and send Christmas cards or framed portraits? (Paging Nicole Becker, call me re: Pearl House also, yes precious.)