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People die in weather like this.

Posted by Anonymous Thursday, January 07, 2010 Labels: , ,

That's what my friend Nick posted on his facebook the other day along with the following appeal:
"I'm asking you all to do something over the next couple of days. Put extra blankets or thermal underwear in your cars as you drive. If you see a panhandler or homeless person, ask their name. Tell them yours. Ask where they are staying/if they have enough to keep warm. Offer them your blanket/thermal underwear. Hug and depart. People die in weather like this. Let's take care of each other."

It really struck me.  Especially in a neighborhood where I drive by a panhandler twice a day on average.  It's easy to become numb to it. It's easy to get caught up in wondering if they are legitimately in need of money, or if they're going to use it for something destructive.  It's easy to assume someone else will provide.  

And yet.

When it's zero degrees outside, it doesn't really matter what their intentions are.  Because people die in weather like this.  So I took Nick's advice and made sure I had a couple of blankets in my trunk.  Today I psyched myself up and spoke with a man who was at one of the usual panhandling locations that I pass by each day (the exit ramp from 71 North onto Admiral Blvd.).  The moment I rolled down my window I was hit with a blast of mountaintop raging wind that I hadn't even noticed while I was in the middle of the city, or outside my office protected by buildings on each side. It's brutal out there. I don't know how he could even stand on that hilltop. 

In this case, he had a place to stay tonight, thank God.  Tonight may be one of the coldest nights my 28 years has ever seen in the Midwest.

Someone asked me the other day of Kansas City's homeless missions have enough beds for Kansas City's homeless.  I don't know the answer, but I hope they do tonight, if ever.

A few days ago a man was found dead, frozen in the snow not far from my neighborhood.  Yesterday, Toby saw a panhandler being taken away by ambulance at the exit ramp from I-70 to Independence Avenue. 

So. I post this just as an encouragement to really, really try to reach out in these cold weeks.  No, I don't give money to panhandlers in most cases. But I do think they should be treated like human beings. Make eye contact with them.  Say hello as you drive by even if you're not going to give a dollar. Ask them if they're okay in the cold.  Who cares if they scoff at you because all they really want is money?  Do it anyway.  Let's take care of each other, people.


Danny Dyer said...

"Give to everyone who begs from you..." Luke 6:30. Isn't it funny (tragic?) how we have domesticated the teachings of Jesus.

Great post Moe. I also remember Jesus saying to those who standby and do nothing, "For I was hungry and you game me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me...Truly I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me."

Anonymous said...

Danny - yes. In fact I think it was a sermon that you preached in college on that very passage of the sheep and the goats that first got to me on this issue (in a way that I actually understood it). It still sticks with me (obviously). Thanks for posting it. Hope you guys are doing okay out West. Miss you!

mr.sundquist said...

The shelters of KC do not have enough beds, but on extremely cold nights the shelters (esp. City Union Mission) will let men sleep wherever they can find room (in the chapel pews, for example). My church also opens its basement on cold nights and has about 25 cots for men and women who would normally be "roughing it." The problem with adding more beds is that they would normally be empty for most of the year. It is just on the extreme cold (and sometimes hot) weather that they get overfilled.

Anonymous said...

Thanks mr. sundquist, that makes sense about the extra beds only being available during extreme weather. Thanks to your church for providing in that way.

nick pickrell said...

beautiful post, moe. and i also love the liberty tax one too.