I just got back from 5 hours of bottle driving with my kids. SMELLY! For international friends (or those from provinces that don’t do this), this is the ultimate fundraiser for groups. Recyclables that require a deposit are collected from the neighbourhood and cashed in, the money going towards the various recreational groups.
It is not uncommon here in our city, to see people of all walks carting their deposit worthy recyclables to the depot for a few bucks in return. It honestly really does add up! Drive downtown and you’ll see homeless people loading up shopping carts, rooting through trash looking for that stray coke can or juice container that someone may have thrown away. For me, it’s a few extra bucks for something special with the family, for recreational groups it is something to lower the cost or increase the accessibility of a program, for someone who is homeless or otherwise in a lower income range, it may be the next meal.
Growing up in church, we would pray for the homeless, pray for those less fortunate and the needy. But truly, I always wondered what was up with that? It was kind of like reciting the Lord’s Prayer every morning in school (yeah, I know that totally doesn’t happen now, but it was the norm in public schools when I was little). You include it just because it is the thing to include. I don’t think in all that time I actually ever witnessed anything beyond prayer. NOT knocking the prayer, but why don’t people see themselves as the answer to those prayers when they are praying for those less fortunate?
In a town we once lived, there was a lady who lived up the street from us. A kind lady who doted on her little dog and was forever walking him around the block on his leash. If she happened to see me in my yard (or on the flip, if she was in her yard and I was walking by with the kids) she’d want to visit. I never had issue with this and enjoyed our visits – I think she may have had some sort of cognitive disability as her social interactions seemed a little askew. Being so friendly, she was always quite aware of anything going on in the neighbourhood and had earned the nickname “The Neighbourhood News.” She was older and lived with a brother & sister in the home they grew up in. There were other siblings apparently who had moved far away once they were old enough to do so.
I’m not quite sure how it came up, but another elderly, dear neighbour friend shared with me this woman’s story; her father was negligent (alcoholism was involved), her mother was unable to care for all the children. This other lady said it was the other neighbours that took it upon themselves and for years, blessed this family with groceries every week. This family was cared for and essentially survived only by the kindness & generosity of others. Poverty in a neighbourhood one would never suspect.
I have read a fantastically amazing book by Jeannette Walls called “The Glass Castle”. It is a look at poverty, homelessness and growing up in circumstances most of us wouldn’t have thought existed. As Jeanette put it in an interview I watched online “We grew up aspiring to become poor white trash”.
Homelessness is not a choice, circumstances may find someone in a situation well beyond their ability to comprehend, let alone change. Poverty is real. Our ability to help and make a real significant difference in someone else’s life is also real.