Of course, Zsofia was THRILLED to be chosen for special mission of playing Santa. She could barely sit still long enough for Steve to harness her...and then we were off to deliver Christmas gifts to a few friends in twn and, most important, to deliver our We Care Christmas Project bags to the homeless.
First we headed to Diane’s and met little tiny Lola, who insisted on coming out to meet White Dog and Zso despite shivering, even in her mom’s arms. Next was Andre’s…he is sick but also came out for a second with his VERY senior boy to give hugs and pets and Merry Christmas wishes. Tracey’s kitties purred in the window and Zsofia sang Merry Christmas to them…and Tracey called Steve back inside to surprise us with an entire BOX of bananas to distribute along with our gift bags. Such a generous gift.
Then our true mission began. I was an incredibly humbling, uplifting, and heartbreaking experience! The We Care bags our community helped create were our Christmas project for this year. Together over 120 bags were created plus 41 bags of dog kibble. Tonight and tomorrow we and friends will make sure they get into the hands of those in need along with sincere blessing and hope for a better new year.
So in the late afternoon fading sun and growing cold we went out to give love. We had heard the city had begun a crackdown on panhandling and were making a concerted effort to stop homeless congregating at intersections, at the parks, in places deemed “unsafe.” There was no one to be found at places we had previously always seen street people resting with their blankets and carts. We worried about where they had been driven to hide and how much their condition had worsened. We drove determinedly choosing areas that seemed to hold possibility. We began to find those seeking to be invisible.
There were the two guys at opposite corners of the expressway interchange who were like feral children ready to run when we called them over and handed them the bags. But their eyes widened when they realized what we were offering.
There was the guy passed out under an overpass that Steve tucked a bag...and bananas ...next to without disturbing. We hope he will believe in Santa when he awakens.
There was the woman with the shopping cart and her dog who didn't really trust us but suspiciously took the bag and dog food. As we drove away, we saw her feeding a handful of kibble to her happy dog.
Then Steve had the brilliant idea of heading over to the area where the homeless health care clinic is. The clinic was closed but there were lots of folks milling around. Another car of wonderful givers was down the way handing out coffee and sandwiches; we pulled up as they ran out...leaving lots of disappointed men and women who were so grateful for our gifts. We had enough so that every person there got a We Care bag and at least 4 bananas.
It was amazing as hands reached out to pet Zsofia and Siku barked a Merry Christmas greeting. I am not sure which brought me closer to tears...the smiles...or seeing everyone tucking all of the goodies into their backpacks, carts and carry systems. Tonight four other teams of friends are heading out to put gift bags and kibble into hands and paws in need.
When we got back home White Dog shoved Zsofia into the center of the WDA. “Tell them,” she commanded. “Tell them.” Zso first took a long drink of water from the nearest bowl and circled her family. Then she settled at my feet on the blanket. “We are SO lucky,” she began.