Country Roads
Country Roads

I am one of those people who cannot ignore homeless people. It touches my heart so deeply because the faces of the homeless could be anyone these days. Our economy and the changes in employment throw many unsuspecting people and families into that category. I always ask myself if there is a solution to this problem. So many people pass the homeless by as if they are invisible. There are times that I honestly wish I could do the same, but my heart just won’t let me ignore them. I have to help, even in the smallest of ways-such as giving spare change or a warm smile. Sure, there are disreputable people asking for money, but wouldn’t you rather know that you helped make the difference in the lives of a few?

A few weeks ago, we had an extremely busy weekend at Country Roads. I was exhausted and hungry. I love Bristol Farms sushi, but I only treat myself to it when I’ve had a good day at work. There is a Bristol Farms near my home in an area surrounded by housing. When I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed how very cold it had gotten and how the sun had set. Bristol Farms keeps their shopping carts outside of the store. As I grabbed my cart to go inside, I heard a faint voice say, “Can you help us? We are homeless.” It was a black gentleman and his 11-year-old daughter shivering from the cold. I can’t put it into words, but there was something different about them. I felt like it took all the man had to ask for my help, plus it was so cold outside. He and his daughter just made my heart ache. When he asked for heIp, he didn’t ask for money. I inquired if they were hungry, to which he replied, “Yes”! I asked him what they liked to eat, and he said maybe some chips and cookies. I headed into Bristol Farms on a mission. I bought some hot chicken for them, the cookies and chips and milk, and I don’t even remember what else. It ended up filling two grocery bags.

After I paid for the groceries, I walked outside of the store, and I didn’t see them at first. In a matter of seconds, though, they headed my way with a grocery cart. I gave them the food and put some money into the gentleman’s hand, telling them to take care. The man gave me a big hug and said, “God bless you.” As I turned to depart with tears in my eyes, his daughter did the same. I watched them walk away and wondered if I could have done more.

As I crawled into bed that night, my heart was heavy. I had my electric blanket on high, because I was so cold “inside” of the house. I couldn’t stop thinking about the dad and his daughter and where they were sleeping. I remember my mom telling me stories about growing up in Texas during the Depression. Her family didn’t have much, but they would always give what they could to people who came knocking at the back door. I feel so blessed that those values my mom taught me stay strong in my heart. My wish is that more of us would just “give” when we can. And never forget just a simple smile goes a long way as well. If we all just gave a little bit when we could, it would be like Louis Armstrong’s song “Wonderful World.” “...just think to yourself, what a wonderful world it would be!”

204 West Chapman Avenue, Orange, CA 92866 / 714-532-3041

Published in the Mar/Apr 2012 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review

Written by Sue Jackson

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