Today, I got involved with a small event called Street Love where we donated clothes and food to the homeless. I found out about it via Facebook yesterday when a friend said that he was donating some clothes. I felt particularly drawn to this event as I felt strongly that I wanted to give something back this Christmas. I also happened to have a bag full of clothes that had been sitting in my hallway for weeks that I had been meaning to take to a charity shop. I also bought bags full of food to give out. We made up bags to take around to homeless people with some essential supplies such as food, blankets, socks, hats and other goodies. In each bag, we put a love note that we had written inside a Christmas card so that the recipient knew that we were thinking of them.
We were to give out the bags and get chatting to the recipient and direct them back to our meeting point for more clothes and food.
The first person I came across was a guy called Aaron. I sat down next to him and gave him his bag of goodies. He became emotional and told me that he was amazed at how generous people were being this year, he was so hugely grateful. He told me that just a few a weeks ago he was considering ending it all because he didn’t think he could carry on, I gave him a hug and sat and chatted. He told me that before today, he didn’t have a sleeping bag, but someone had been giving out £30 Argos vouchers earlier in the day and he had treated himself to a sleeping bag and rucksack.
He said that what he really wanted for Christmas was to get home to Leicester to see his Dad who is sick. I wished more than anything that I could help him get home but I had no money with me.
I told him where the meeting point was and to come along and get food and clothing. He said that he was going to Kings Cross at 8pm to Crisis. I said that he should come to us on the way. I gave him another hug and said goodbye.
As I walked away I felt incredibly emotional and choked up. I so wanted to help him get home for Christmas and I made a commitment to myself that if he showed up at the meeting point, I would help him to get home. I talked to the other people in my mini group about everyone chipping in to get him a train ticket home if he showed up.
We finished our rounds of dropping off bags and directing people back to the meeting point to get clothes and food.
Back at the meeting point, I really hoped that Aaron would come and find us but got on with helping the people that were there with some new clothes.
Then I looked up and saw him, I was so happy that he came. We hugged again and I decided there and then that I would take him to the nearest station, which was Charing Cross and buy him a ticket home.
As we chatted along the way, he told me that his Dad is 67 and has lung cancer and is really sick. He told me that his Mum died of breast cancer 3 years ago and he held her hand as she passed away. He had ended up on the streets 3 years ago because he had been made redundant.
I told him that I lost my Dad 3 years ago and I held his hand as he passed away and that I have had breast cancer. It felt serendipitous that I should meet him.
At Charing Cross, I bought him a return ticket to Leicester, gave it to him with a big hug and wished him a Merry Christmas. He gave me a huge hug back and a kiss on the cheek. I felt such a huge well of emotion as I walked away.
I will never forget the look on his face as I handed him the tickets and he walked away to get on the underground to go home to his Dad for Christmas.
I feel humbled and emotional and so very grateful. Connecting with Aaron has touched me to the core and I am so grateful that I was able to help him get home to his Dad.
It made me realise that it could be any one of us that ends up in that position. One of the other mini groups met a guy whose house was washed away at Clacton a couple of weeks ago in the floods. I feel so grateful for my network of friends as I know that they would never let me live on the streets.
Giving to someone else and being able to make their Christmas is truly a gift and better than any gift that I could receive.
I will be thinking of Aaron on Christmas day and wondering how he and his Dad are.
If this has inspired you, I wonder, what small act of kindness could you do, which could make someone’s Christmas special?