As we pulled off the exit for the zoo and made it to the stoplight, Max yelled from the back of the van, “Mom, there is someone who needs a bag!”
As I looked up, I saw a man holding a sign that that read:
I need help, I’m homeless and hungry.
I grabbed one of the bags we had prepared weeks ago and handed it to the man and said “God bless you.” The light changed to green and we made our intended turn, I looked back and just started to weep.
It was just a Ziploc plastic bag filled with snacks and water and toilet paper, band-aids and a few other things, but to my 7-year-old, it was a lesson about generosity and compassion and love.
I’d love to blog that is little plastic bag was my idea, but it wasn’t. Max had come up with the idea on his own to do something for the people we encounter on the side of the road with a cardboard sign. I had done projects like this at our church when Max was too little to remember, but this time, it was all his idea.
Outside the McDonald’s in our town is a prime spot for our cardboard sign-holding friends to sit. Max inquired what a particular friend’s sign said and we told him it said “Homeless.” Many conversations followed that encounter with what that meant and with a suggestion that maybe we could let this friend live in the rental house we were trying to sell. Max wanted to do something, so we did.
Just a little plastic bag and what a lesson. I am so glad it was his idea.
We passed out our first bag one evening while on a chicken nugget run after working outside and missing dinner. Max was so excited to see the man open the plastic bag and start eating some chips right away. Max had many questions about the man: Why was he homeless? Where was his family? Why did he have on a backpack? Did he just come from school? Where does he sleep?
We tried to answer the best way we could and told him we didn’t need to know the details of why, but just needed to show kindness to him.
For some reason, the second bag we handed out on the way to the zoo stopped me in my tracks. I could see my husband out of the corner of my eye, looking at me as the tears began to flow and I began to sob.
My tears that day were a mixed bag of emotions over this little plastic bag.
I was so glad we could meet some immediate needs of our new friend. I was so sad that this man had to hold and sign and ask for help. I was so happy that we had a bag in our car. I was so humbled that my son noticed a need and wanted to fill it. I wanted to do more.
So until we can figure out what “more” looks like for our family, we will make more little plastic Ziplock gallon bags and be prepared to pass them out to our new cardboard sign-holding friends.