A few years ago I was an employee of an international company that sold computer devices. I had to travel a lot as part of my work. I remember that I was at a stage of my life where I only cared about how to make more money and how to solve technical problems. I was locked in my own world living as a robot that only worked in a mechanical way. On one of my work trips, I came to the airport to take a bus to downtown, as usual. It was the same routine: get into the city, take the bus to the hotel, check in, visit the client, work late, take the bus back to the airport and fly back out... That day, for some reason, something was different. I decided not to take the same exit in the airport and took the stairs down to a different exit and ... Read Full Story >>
A Night With The Homeless by: Ellis Moore (Age 10) Every Saturday or Sunday night my family and I go out and feed the homeless people in the city of Orlando. There are thousands of people across The United States without any food or shelter. My family and I have been doing this for several months. We wanted to see what it was like in the life of a homeless person. One special thing I like to mention is, my family and I do not eat before we begin our journey so we know how it feels to be hungry. All of the areas we go to are very dangerous. We go on streets such as, Orange blossom trail, Parramore, Gore street, Colonial Dr, and down town Orlando. We all get together in the kitchen and prepare the food. Some of the meals are sandwiches and cookies and a bottle of water. ... Read Full Story >>
I'm sort of new to this small acts of kindness game, so I'm not sure how people feel about picking up hitchhikers. I've always felt that as long as you don't put your self in a completely unsafe position, it is an OK thing to do. But I'd never done it before until this week. It was about 9pm and I was walking in my school's campus from my office to my car. On the way, I ran into an fellow who was obviously lost. He asked me for directions, saying he needed to get to East Palo Alto. But the problem was he was walking in the complete opposite direction! I pointed him in the correct direction, but warned him it was a long ways off. He didn't speak English very well, and generally seemed disoriented. I quickly felt like helping him. Though he was a big guy, the vibe I ... Read Full Story >>
Moving away gave me a chance to reflect on my good fortune and it was a wonderful opportunity to give away some of my things. I’m not rich, but I decided to make sure that what I have an excess off (thanks to the kindness of wonderful friends and family) is passed on to those who really need it. Once you start, its amazing how much you can do... 1. I donated some clothes which were still in pretty good condition, which used to belong to my roomate or me (partly inspired by the story of Goonj posted by 'Anju73'). I spent a good deal of time laundering and ironing them I also added some lavender scents :). I searched for the right place to give them to. I could have given it to Habitat which is round the corner, but I checked out a great homeless shelter that I had heard about and gave it to them instead. I popped ... Read Full Story >>
It's the middle of the night and I find writing this blog nothing short of imperative. As I've been sitting on the floor in my disheveled room, I began to recall such an important moment in my life. Some might pass it off as "dumb" or "unimportant", but for me, it has held a great magnitude of power over my mind and how I live my life. Something so simple, yet so precious has lingered inside my mind for years now. It was a very cold winter evening when a friend of mine had attempted suicide and was rushed to Westchester Medical Center where she stayed, unconscious for quite a while. FINALLY she awoke. A friend of mine and I decided to visit her, so we picked up some picturesque flowers and were on our way. We reached the hospital and dashed madly across the freezing parking lot through the hospitals automatic doors. After signing in, up ... Read Full Story >>
I live in a big Scandinavian city that unfortunately has a lot of homeless people. Luckily there are small ways of helping them even though you may not have a lot of money. One way to help is to buy their monthly magazine. By doing this one day, I got to know a young homeless man who was often standing at the train station, selling the magazine. He was a refugee from another country and I can only imagine what kind of psychological scars he must have had from living in a war-torn country, escaping it and then ending up being homeless. After a while, I discovered that his birthday was close to mine which meant that we were born under the same sign of the Zodiac, something we talked about once in a while. I met him last year shortly after his birthday, and without thinking, after congratulating him, I asked if he had had ... Read Full Story >>
I was in the check-out line at a store with two cases of Ramen noodles, one case of Cup of Noodles, one case of bottled water, one pack of plastic spoons, and one box of large zip bags.
While waiting to put them on the conveyor belt, the man in front of me put his two packs of beer on the counter and looked at the food I had placed on the belt. He asked me if that was all I had to eat and I smiled and shared that it was all for the folks that live in the camp under the freeway and behind the car wash. He nodded, turned away and didn't look back.
However, when the food came up to the register, he said, "I want to pay for this food also." I stretched out my hand to shake his, but he hugged me instead. I wanted to thank him but he hurried off and when he looked back I could see tears in his eyes. I knew that God had done something special in this man's life.
It has struck me, lately, how heightened awareness of the things going on around us can present many new helping opportunities! Last week, I was driving through a local sandwich chain at lunchtime, when I saw two men sitting on the grass a few yards away conversing with each another. They very thin and seemed a little dirty and unkempt, and very thin. It seemed to me that they were homeless... but they were not standing around, with signs or asking for anything. I immediately felt like I could not just buy myself a sandwich without helping them eat, too. I asked the person at the window if I could purchase two $5 gift cards. I then drove up to the two men and presented the gift cards to them. They were totally shocked! One man said "is this for FOOD?!" He immediately began thanking me, over and over again. Both these men were tremendously grateful and verbalized ... Read Full Story >>
This is a story that happened 15 years ago but it has always stayed with me since then. On the way back from work every evening, more often than not there would be a homeless man standing at the exit of the freeway. He looked to be in his late 40's but was probably a lot younger. He had shoulder length straight black hair a short beard, and he was of average stature. His eyes were what struck me the most about him, they were brown and they had a sparkle. Like an inside light that was beaming out of his eyes. His eyes, I thought, represented the man in general. People say they can tell a lot from a person’s eyes. It was certainly true in his case. He always waved at every car, he was always happy and smiling and sometimes almost dancing. Every day after work I would remember ... Read Full Story >>
Every day I go into the same coffee shop on the way to work. It's part of a large chain here in the UK. I am new to the anonymous act of kindness concept. I came across it recently, and a few weeks ago I worked up the courage to ask the Barista if I could pay for a coffee for someone later that day. He looked at me kind of strangely and said "okay" and then put the money in the till. I walked out feeling doubtful that this would ever happen (and privately thinking he might just add the money to his tips). This chain stamps a card every time you buy a coffee and when you get 9 stamps, the 10th coffee is free. I had just completed my card today and was due a free coffee next time, so I cheered up as I headed out of the ... Read Full Story >>
Today, it was over 100 degrees out. Horrible humidity too. While driving to get my tire fixed on my van I noticed some homeless people wandering around in this heat. My heart sank. As soon as I was done at the garage I went to the store and picked up some gatorade, ice and bags of trail mix. I headed home to pick up my 3 kids (1, 2 and 16 years old), loaded the van with the cooler and went off to pass them out. We found 3 homeless guys walking in the heat with the weight of their backpacks and gave them ice cold gatorade and bags of trail mix. The best part was seeing the look on my 16 year old's face as he handed them the drinks and hearing my 2 year old say 'God bless you!' from the back seat. Awesome. This is how my kids and I ... Read Full Story >>
Today we spent the morning going through our personal belongings. We were looking for items to give away for free, at a local park. Not just any items but things people really needed. We came up with blankets, soaps, food, and clothing. Our aim was not to find things we no longer wanted, but things we use everyday that would be useful to others. For some of the items we used and needed we split the amounts in half. We kept one half and added the other half to the pile of things to give away. We made up boxes with the things we believed would be useful and added some small toys. We added a list of local addresses and phone numbers of local helping agencies. Inside the boxes a simple letter was placed. It read….. “Please take these items and know that your life is important. Times are difficult but these days will pass. ... Read Full Story >>
If you are on the lookout, you can almost always find an opportunity for kindness. I filled my afternoon with small gestures today, they didn't take much time or effort, but I hope they made a small difference to the people who received them. I was out and about because I had to do a few errands this afternoon. My first stop was the supermarket. I wanted to buy some croissants with chocolate on them for my daughter Rita. I also decided to get a few plain ones for my husband, my mum and me. Armed with the croissants, I went on to my second stop - a local charity bookshop. I wanted to see if they had any books on Unicorns, since Rita loves them (and, I have to admit, so do I). While I was there, I struck up a conversation with the lady at the counter during which she commented on the smell ... Read Full Story >>
This is my first time posting a story on helpothers because I have not had the opportunity to use my smile cards yet, but yesterday on Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to use them twice :) Yesterday morning was thanksgiving and my husband and I were getting ready to head to Atlanta to spend the holidays with family. I was outside packing the car when I noticed a car sitting at the corner of the lane with the flashers on. There was a line of cars behind honking and getting very aggravated but the man at the wheel was just sat there. I called out to my husband and asked him to go see if the man needed help. My husband rushed across across the busy intersection and asked the man if he was okay. The man sitting there had simply ran out of gas, and could not get intouch with anyone to help him and he didn't have a gas can. My husband called me ... Read Full Story >>
Last week, I went to work very early as I had a lot to do, and early mornings, before others get to work are the times I can be most productive. I arrived at the Embarcadero station in San Francisco from the East Bay around 5:30am and as I surfaced from underground, I checked my BlackBerry and noticed the next SF Muni bus was in 10 minutes. Instead of waiting around for 10 minutes in the cold, I felt inspired to go buy this (possibly homeless?) man in a wheelchair something from the Starbucks. I had seen him before sitting outside in his wheelchair trying to stay warm, and quietly and politely shaking his cup gently (I've never heard him asking for change though) hoping someone will contribute some more coins. I went up to him and asked "Brother, can I bring you some hot coffee from Starbucks?" He replied with "Hot Chocolate," immediately, ... Read Full Story >>
Sometimes the people who are noticed the least can do the most to lift us up... On Thanksgiving morning I got up early to run in the local 5K run. I figured it might give me the motivation to get back into running. It was nearly freezing that morning so everyone getting ready to run was hopping around trying to stay warm. On the side of the road, sitting in the grass, was a man wrapped in a blanket. It was pretty obvious he was homeless and as usual, most people pretended not to see him. I went over and talked with him for a few minutes before the race. In the midst of the idle chit-chat, he told me that he was a veteran and had hoped he might be able to earn a few dollars that morning to be able to go buy a Thanksgiving dinner. He had a glimmer of ... Read Full Story >>
I was riding my bike around lunch time today and passed a man sitting just off the sidewalk with his face in his hands. My first thought was: "Stop! See if he needs help." But I was riding fast. I slowed down and looked back. It looked as though he was either praying or crying, maybe both. I decided that meant that I had to turn around. I rode up and asked if he was ok. No response. For a second, I thought he might be a drunk or a bum. But I asked again. He looked up with clear eyes and bright teeth, and gave me a big shiny smile. He was about 55-60, wearing denim overalls and a farmer's hat, and had the hands of a manual laborer. I quickly discovered that he spoke no English but I was able to make out that he was hungry and he had no ... Read Full Story >>
I am new to this group but not to the idea of helping others. Funny thing is, I never really give helping others much thought, it is just something I do. I am sure that most of those who find their way here are similar in nature and action. The opportunities are all around us if we are open to them and not so caught up in our own routines. That being said, my first post here is not about something that would raise eyebrows, elicit sighs or gain a round of applause. It is just a simple thing but I hope that it brings comfort to many and lets the recipients know that there ARE people out here who care about them. Following my aunt's death 5 years ago, I made a decision to hold on to her condo in the California desert . It is a familiar and serene ... Read Full Story >>
My church was assigned Valentine’s Day to serve a meal to homeless people. After reading a HelpOthers.org story about giving flowers out at a meal program, I formed the idea to augment our church activity with some colorful floral life. Building off of my intention, a fellow church member came forward to help pay for the flowers. At the event, we fed the hungry souls until they were stuffed, and then we gave flowers to anyone who wanted one. Our pastor even joined in to pass out flowers at the tables.
Later that day, I saw a lady with a carnation in her hand hugging the pastor, which led me to believe that the flower must have touched her in a special way. It is great that through a simple idea on this website, we were able to bring the food serving experience to a deeper level with some flower power!
Four of us walk into a coffee shop -- Jessica, Russell, Michelin and I. We're all super committed to birthing a gift-economy world view. Like all activities rooted in generosity, our conversation also takes on an escalating charge as we speak about the nature of things -- "Goodness just begets more goodness. Lots of people don't trust that, because sometimes it takes time, but sooner or later, goodness does beget more goodness." Right then, the waitress comes over and offers us a bran-muffin as a gift. Completely stunned, we look at her silently begging for an explanation. With a smile that says everything, she adds, "You know, we're closing and the muffin won't survive the night, so instead of wasting it, I thought I'd give it away." The waitress disappeared quickly, but we were bubbling with compassion that was very pregnant for expression. We find the janitor, thank him for his ... Read Full Story >>
There are two men who are almost always outside my grocery store, in various states of dishevelment. One is sometimes (but not always) in a wheelchair. He holds a sign that says he is a vet and "anything will help." The other man is younger, nearly toothless, and if he were not in such a public place, would maybe frighten me a little. I have walked past them countless times, on my way to buy my family's weekly groceries. I don't usually like to give money to panhandlers. But I see these guys so often, that I decided to make eye contact, say a deliberate "Hi" and smile at them, instead of ducking my head away and ignoring them. In both cases, I got a startled "hello there" back. Last week, while waiting in the deli area, I noticed the pre-made, plastic-wrapped sub-style sandwiches. I grabbed two of them, two extra apples, and two ... Read Full Story >>
About nine years ago I worked at a large downtown hotel. Since we were connected to a mall and a public parking garage, anyone could just pretty much walk into the hotel area. We started having a big problem with homeless youth living in our stairwells at night. The stairwells went largely unused because of their hidden nature and the fact that once inside, you could only go down and exit to the street, all the doors locked behind you and you could not travel between levels and exit back into the hotel. As night manager, I ended up being the one to evict these youth, night after night after night. One night there were seven homeless young people and a puppy, in a total of three locations. I hated to do it on rainy nights, but it was my job, and some guests felt threatened when encountering tattooed and pierced youth ... Read Full Story >>
I've been so inspired by everyone's thoughts and reflections that I thought I'd take the plunge and continue a recent practice of stepping out of my comfort zone and sharing this story. Last Friday, I was coming home late after spending time with friends andthought I'd go down to the $.99 cent pizza place. On the way, I saw a man sitting on a random stoop. I'd seen him before, panhandling on the stairs I walk up every day as I leave the subway running late to work, but this time I had no place to rush off to. There was something about him, a quiet and serene demeanor, different from many of the other homeless people I had seen in NYC. I walked past him, went to the pizza place, and those 10 seconds waiting in line was enough to practice stepping outside of my usual, familiar flow. So with a few ... Read Full Story >>
You join Facebook and " friend" your old classmates. You might not ever talk about anything serious with them but they are there. You read their status, laugh at their jokes, groan at the corny quotes, or wish them a happy birthday. Until last week, that is.... A classmate from twenty years ago was one of my Facebook friends. A few random comments he made gave me the impression that something was wrong so I prodded him to call me. He did call and I found out that that he, his wife and eight children had just moved into a cheap motel room. He had used the very last of their money to pay for a week's stay there. He had no job and they had lost their home. What do you do in a situation like that? I am just me, with my own family, my own worries, not enough money ... Read Full Story >>
It was my birthday so my wife, my brother and my child treated ourselves to dinner in a restaurant that we had never been to before. As we walked back to our car a very thin man approached my brother saying he hadn't eaten in a while and asking for money. Usually my wife and I treat such requests with suspicion but my brother took a different approach and he started talking with the man. The man said he was a singer and had come to Dubai from Pakistan to find work. His visa was expiring in three or four days. He had no friends here, couldn't land a singing job, and was surviving hand to mouth. He had a return ticket that had to be confirmed. To do this he needed 70 Dirhams. My brother gave him 20 Dirhams for food and asked the man to give him a call from the airline's ticket office the next day. He also ... Read Full Story >>
I was in the line at Dunkin Donuts. The couple in front of me had ordered their food and stepped to the side. I proceeded to order mine. Quick and simple. Then I noticed a young man. I could tell was not having the best of luck and it showed on his face. He walked in carrying his belongings in a torn plastic bag. The couple ahead of me turned, looked, then turned away. The lady grabbed her purse tighter and her husband quickly stood in front of her. I moved over so he could order. He looked at the board, checked his pockets and didn't seem to have enough for anything. So, he turned around and walked out. I picked up my coffee and followed him out. He had gone maybe five paces when I shouted, "Hey! Do you want a donut?" A little embarrassed, he said, "I dont have any money." I told ... Read Full Story >>
My husband, my four-month old daughter and I set out on a five day driving journey from California to Washington. We had to stop frequently because oure little one needed to stretch from the car seat. One of our stops, once we crossed the Oregon border, was at a Black Bear Diner. Walking towards the front door we noticed a gentleman standing to one side. He was seriously dishelved, without shoes and wearing tattered clothing. We passed right by him and opened the restaurant door. Then something told me to go back. Holding my four-month old daughter I turned around and said to the gentleman, "Sir. Are you hungry?" He said, "Yes." I then asked, "May we buy you a bite to eat?" He responded with, "Sure, I can order something to go." My husband opened the door and the gentleman went straight to the counter. I told him to order whatever he wanted. The manager ... Read Full Story >>
On the street, outside a restaurant door, my wife and I are chatting with friend about some good news in her life. Right then, a woman comes up to me and asks, "I'm so sorry to interrupt, but I'm really hungry and I'm wondering if you could spare some money?" In our city, there are many pan-handlers, so I typically would just share a kind word and move on. But somehow I feel moved to do something this time. Perhaps it was because we were just conversing about some good events happening in our friend's life and I had a sublte sense of paying it forward. I don't know. "Yeah, sure. I'll take you to eat dinner today. Where do you want to go?" I ask the homeless woman. With a surprising smile, she says: "Oh, there a Taqueria just down that street. I'd love to get a burrito." So the two of us ... Read Full Story >>
My Daughter and I recently encountered, as we often do, in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, a Homeless man, who was hunkered down for the night, under a few sleeping bags with his book and all of his belongings. We encountered him as we were walking home after dinner. We had been so hungry at dinner, after a day of touring colleges, that our eyes were too big for our stomachs and we ordered too much. The appetizer ended up being enormous, and ravenous as we were, we ate it hungrily. There was still some to spare. When our meals arrived, we picked at them, out of obligation, but decided to take the whole portions home, although we were staying in a hotel, and leaving early the next morning, and likely wouldn't have even eaten it. As we were walking home from dinner, we passed the homeless man and he made some gesture to us, ... Read Full Story >>
In my line of work we often hold conferences and workshops. The university I work for kindly provides food for all attendants (and anyone passing by at the right time) but it bothers me that they throw away all leftovers - and there's usually lots! Last week I finally made my point and was allowed to take a huge tray of very nice sandwiches away with me. They were yummy and healthy and it would have been a real shame to see them ending up in the bin. The guy from catering even allowed me to borrow a large tray to carry them on. I went looking for the homeless guy that usually sits in front of our local supermarket. He was sitting there reading and petting his dog on a blanket, and was thrilled when I showed him the food. He had nothing to carry the food in and offered to bring ... Read Full Story >>