Imagine no possessions

I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger

A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people sharing all the world,

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

It’s easy to believe our world has turned into a terrible place. This week with the Florida school shootings, it feels like a really terrible and scary place. It’s easy to be wary of strangers or to question how much humanity is left in humans these days.

Lately I’ve been struggling especially hard with the chronic pain that comes with Rheumatoid. Pain wears me down both physically and emotionally. Before I know it I am in a funk that drags my spirit down. Its seems that feeling down makes the even pain worse. More pain, more down. Around and around. Welcome to my world. I am also feeling very blessed that my 78 year old Mother breezed thru knee replacement surgery. But the pain was getting me down anyway. When I feel myself starting my “pain and feel sorry for myself” spiral, I try to think about what would make me happy or feel at least a little better.

I thought about it for a few days and decided that one thing that always feels good is to help somebody that really needs it. I work in Camden, NJ. It’s one of the poorest cities in the country but it is full of good people. Camden has a significant reputation for drug dealing. People come there from all over the area to buy drugs and many end up wandering the streets and homeless.

I work in a hospital there and saw how hard this extra cold winter has been on our homeless. Frostbite and amputations were regular occurrences. Some people have drug problems, some mental health issues and some people might just be down on their luck. I have to remind myself that each one of these people are someone’s beloved child or missing parent. Someone out there is praying for them to be safe and find a better life. I can’t change their lives but I could try to make them feel that people care about them and that all is not lost.

A few months ago I saw a post on Facebook about a family that made “Blessing Bags” to hand out when they saw a homeless person. They used a ziplock bag and filled it with some toiletries, snacks and a pair of new socks. Yahtzee! I could do that. I even knew a Catholic Priest that ran an 88 bed shelter in Camden. I found my mission.

I posted on Facebook and Instagram the details of my project. I thought if a few people made some donations, I could really do this up right. It started slowly. My dentist offered toothbrushes and toothpaste. Wow great. Thanks.

Then it started to snowball. I found donations from neighbors on my porch night after night. People sent checks and used Venmo to contribute. People that I rarely see came out of the woodwork to give support. I was doing my happy dance when one of those “I only see you at funerals and weddings” relatives sent a big ol’ check. (You know who you are!) I couldn’t believe how much people really wanted to help. I mentioned that I needed a few more items on FB and that same day, an old friend living far away purchased it all and sent it to me through Amazon. My therapist refused her copay and wanted it to be used for the project. Neighbors asked if I would include letters from the youth group at our local parish. People volunteered to help back the bags, another to help me get the 88 bags into Camden.

I had to purchase bigger bags to accommodate all our gifts. We have 88 socks, gloves, hats, washcloths, lots of toiletries, chap stick, rain ponchos, juice boxes and lots of food. I even have enough to supply the shelter with pounds of coffee and creamer. The money and donations still keep coming, sometimes from people I don’t even know. They just heard about it or saw it on a friend’s Facebook page. Everyone just wanted to help. No tax deduction here. No fancy charity. No affiliation with any group or cause. Just me and a whole lot of help from strangers and friends.

Just a reminder: People are kind.

People are generous. We are all one family.

We just forget sometimes.

Suddenly I can glimpse that spark of God’s love inside all of us. If you are not religious, lets just say- the kindness of strangers.

I feel like I witnessed a little everyday miracle.

I got a Blessing Bag too. Mine was filled with kindness and generosity.

I think my pain is a little less today.

That funk is starting to fade too.

Thanks guys, I needed that.