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Participated in an effort today to reach out to the homeless in New York City. It was organized by Don’t Walk By and executed quite well. Street teams canvassed Manhattan, sending the homeless back to a church in Harlem where people received food, counseling, blankets, toothpaste, and resources to get them a long-term solution. It was a beautiful time. Some memorable observations included: -watching my friend bringing the homeless men and women to various tables to sit down for a meal and conversation -watching their eyes light up as I offered guests (how we referred to them) various toiletries -chatting with a woman about her shelter and learning that some of them are simply a bed with a roof over it -enjoying watching volunteers really chat it up with the guests and treat them really well -attempting to fill the guests’ requests for various sizes and styles of clothes. One man commented that some of our offerings were a little “ragged!” This was a great effort and I believe we served close to 100 homeless in just a few hours. Here’s my takeaway from that evening. We made some amazing differences in people’s lives that night, be it for just that evening or forever. The thing that made it easy, however, was having the tools, essentially, an ice-breaker, through which we could reach out to the homeless with. It was simply business to ask them if they wanted any razors or shaving cream and from there, conversation either continued or just ended with a smile. Without these goods to offer, however, would we have the hearts to talk to these men and women…or would our self-consciousness kick in? I feel as if nothing is changed if we still walk by the homeless every other day of the year. We were given information cards to hand to any homeless…perhaps that’s one way of living this effort. Perhaps I could carry goods around and give a beggar a protein bar or something. That’s it, I could give them protein bars! They’re cheap for me and would give me an excuse to give them that card. Another takeaway: Homeless doesn’t equate to stupid or uneducated. I carried on riveting conversations with many of them, chatting about everything from their shelter to how they actually didn’t need a razor because they like to go to a barber! My approach now can be to chat with them, give them that card, and advise them to get out of the cold once and for all. THAT would be the true mission of “Don’t Walk By,” lived out! Watch this video, pretty amazing: http://film.dontwalkby.org/