With so many people out there who need help, I wonder about things. I wonder how hard it would be to find good Samaritans in every community that would be interested in helping out people who just need a little help to make things easier to get by. I’d call it “Little things mean a lot” or something like that. For people working a non-living wage job, sometimes having a ride to work now and then will save them from spending money on public transportation or stretch gas money until the next payday. Local food banks are falling short of being able to feed the hungry and one thing they are lacking is fresh produce items like fruits and vegetables. Maybe you have a large garden or enough space around you to start a pea-patch. Whatever is grown would be a great donation. I can’t tell you all how many times I’ve walked through neighborhoods full of trees with fruit rotting on the ground all around them.
For single parents like myself, not having a place for my kids to go to before and after school determined how long I’d be able to keep a job. In Seattle, for $15.00 my teen could get an annual pass to drop in after school at the local Boys & Girls Club. When I was living out of an r.v. and spending days at a local park, some folks there amazed me with their ingenuity. There were a couple of young families with kids and both parents worked but could not afford daycare. There were a few retirees nearby that “volunteered” during the summer to be in the park all day to watch over the kids by making sure they were safe from predators and bullies. Somehow picnics just happened to be a daily activity at the park especially in the summer. Some of these kids wouldn’t have eaten that day if those picnics weren’t so coincidental. I deliberately made a point of having barbecues there since hamburgers and hotdogs don’t cost much. Although it was never talked about out loud, many parents were thankful that their kids were being watched while they were at work. During bad weather, two struggling mom’s living in apartment complexes nearby took turns reserving the cabana rooms to hold pizza parties so that the kids would be warm and dry and if the cabana wasn’t available, they would divide the kids up and let them hang out at their places until the parents got home. One of the mom’s had a van and she would also drive the kids down the hill to the local library. All of this and yet not one person complained about being inconvenienced.
One way I kept kids busy at the park was to teach them things. I taught a lot of girls how to knit or crochet and basic sewing. One boy surprised me because he took to crocheting better than most of the girls! Most of the boys were fascinated when I showed them native survival skills. They wanted to know what plants could be foraged, how to find clean water out in the woods, how to whittle or fashion emergency items from whatever was lying around. By the time their parents got back, they didn’t want to leave. Telling these kids stories amused me more than anything just by watching the expressions on their faces.
Senior citizens need help too. Sometimes they can’t afford their heating bill in the summer or need someone to come out and mow their lawns. I used to help a man with Alzheimer’s clean his house because he was having a difficult time doing basic things. Eventually his daughter brought him to live with her but she was thankful that I kept an eye on him until she was able to move him.
I’m sure there’s other things that can be done as each community has its own needs and I wonder at how much of a logistical nightmare it would be to create such a network of helping hands but in these times, can any of us really afford not to help?