February 2015

February 27, 2015

Life can be pretty amazing. I just picked up a large box from the post office. This comes after posting about being only able to afford making 3 care bags this week. I have no idea how this person got all these things for the homeless in this box.
22 fruit snacks,
3 chicken salad kits
3 tuna salad kits
dark chocolate, raspberry truffles
16 individual Jif peanut butter servings
15 slim jim’s
10 packs of honey roasted peanuts
12 pudding cups
12 pack variety of crackers
2 boxes of Swiss rolls
2 boxes of honey buns
12 pack of cheese crackers
24 pack of chew granola bars
12 pack of crunchy granola bars
16 pack of rice Krispy treats
20 pack of cheez its/cookies
16 pack of pop tarts
40 individual drink mixes
5 t-shirts,
5, 40 count baby wipes
8 pack of tissue
6 pairs of winter socks!
Thank you! Thank you! Please tell me who you are. I’m so appreciative of this gesture and all the time and energy you spent putting this together.
care-bags.org, ‪#‎ShareTheCare‬, ‪#‎carebags‬

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Today is the 91st week of making and delivering care bags for the homeless of Logan Square, Chicago. February 26, 2015 makes over 488 care bags with dozens of nutritious snacks and treats, toiletries and assistance information delivered.

I was only able to afford to make 3 care bags this week. Its important to me me to make a few care bags rather than none at all. If I’m able Ill try to make a few more next week to make up for this week.

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February 21, 2015

I’ve been writing this post in my head for the past hour. Even now, I’m not sure how to proceed. For the first part of the day I met a friend, Meegan Czop, the Director of Business Development at ReBuilding Exchange for a donation of firewood for the homeless. They were great, allowing me to pick scrap wood to be used by the homeless with an ongoing invitation to help myself to more.

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Donated scraps for firewood for the homeless. Thanks ReBuilding Exchange!

 

This wood will provide much needed warmth for these sever Chicago temperatures. As a woodworker myself, I’m pressed to find a more noble use of wood, than to provide warmth when its needed so badly.

I delivered the wood to the encampment where Norman, Marvin, Rocky and Roger sleep. Non of them were around so I took a couple quick pictures to share with you after I dropped off the wood scraps. Its under a highway, tucked away from passersby. The wind whips through and I’m freezing but in their presence I never show I’m cold. Like most places in the city, there are rats sprinting from one cluster of garbage to another. Its loud and cluttered with a strange array of objects. Its unsettling to see a couple beds laying on the ground. There is a buildup of things discarded by others, office chairs, pallets, etc. This is a temporary spot to sleep; the city could get word of this and come by without warning to remove all the beds and structures. I’m hoping because of the cold temperatures, those workers or the city are “looking the other way”. The homeless far outnumber the shelters. These overcrowded shelters are stretched to provide beds and complete the task by often imitating an environment that is closer to a prison than a welcoming place to rest.  In most shelters you are asked to leave by 5:00 am and there is the worry of theft and violence. Complicate the scenario even more with limited space, mental health issues and addiction and you learn why people are sleeping outside during extreme weather.

A couple days earlier I had dropped off a large amount of wood scraps, along with a metal garbage can to replace the small hibachi style grill they were using as a fire pit. Marvin and Rocky were happy to get the wood and garbage can, hugging me, shaking my hand repeatedly and telling me how grateful they were. They were happy, I was happy to be able to help. Those are nice validating moments.

photo 3 (21) photo 2 (41)When I arrived today with the load of firewood I was surprised the 20 gallon, metal garbage can was not used. I was disappointed. I almost didn’t want to share this post. A part of me is worried that people will read this and then justify to themselves why its OK for them to not help. I’ve learned over the course of these past two years, the majority of the population has no understanding of the homeless or how to solve the problems of homelessness. People have misplaced opinions about this subculture because they do not understand. I’ve learned most people cannot place themselves in positions of empathy for others. It seems the more destitute the problems, the bigger the need to turn away from them. The idea of doing nothing is far easier than alternatives. What I’m trying to do is share my experiences with the homeless through my eyes, my thoughts. Anything I feel or have felt concerning the actions of others is because I felt that way once or I’m fighting it inside me.

Here I am asking my friends for firewood; emailing, messaging and posting on Facebook, can someone help these guys and supply me with a good lead on a large metal 55 gal. drum to keep them warm? All the effort and caring to gather wood because the temperatures were going to be in the 17 below zero range. So I worry by sharing what I saw today, most people would justify this as a reason to never lend a hand. To be honest, I don’t understand why the new can wasn’t used to build a bigger fire. I was pretty perplexed when I discovered this. I have to tell myself, I don’t have to understand. I don’t need to understand. There could be many reasons but the truth is, they’re not my business. I had the means and the desire to help, but beyond that, that’s all I can do. Its a good representation of how we help each other. Gifts do not come with instructions on how best to use them. My disappointment comes from my wanting to do what I feel is best for others and them not acting how I had envisioned. There’s the dark truth. I thought I knew what was best for these guys and whether it is or not, its unfair and arrogant of me to think this way. I know they will use the firewood and maybe as I get to know these guys better I will understand more.

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Today makes the 90th week of making and delivering care bags for the homeless of Logan Square, Chicago. February 16, 2015 makes over 485 care bags with dozens of nutritious snacks and treats, toiletries and assistance information delivered.

I made 7 bags this week, though the photo shows 4. I always make bags for new customers of Artist Painters. When the opportunity presents itself to squeeze a little more “awareness” out of somebody, I don’t pass up the chance. It always makes for a nice talk and hopefully a little more understanding. For these bags I’m still utilizingMichelle Patterson Herlihy and Kristen Thompson Leeks wonderful food and toiletry bags they made and sent me from Hawaii. Thank you very much for the time and effort, it really helped out a lot. These bags also contain the last of the amazing Valentine’s Day cards made by local Girl Scouts thanks toMindy Hilt. I picked up some Valentines Day candy on sale at Target as well. ‪#‎ShareTheCare‬ ‪#‎CareBags‬

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Today makes the 89th week of making and delivering care bags for the homeless of Logan Square, Chicago. February 11, 2015 makes over 478 care bags with dozens of nutritious snacks and treats, toiletries and assistance information delivered.

For these bags I’m still utilizing Michelle Patterson Herlihy and Kristen Thompson Leeks wonderful food and toiletry bags they made and sent me from Hawaii. These bags also contain the amazing Valentine’s Day cards made by local Girl Scouts thanks to Mindy Hilt. I threw in extra Valentines Day candies and chocolates into these bags.

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Today makes the 88th week of making and delivering care bags for the homeless of Logan Square, Chicago. February 4, 2015 makes over 471 care bags with dozens of nutritious snacks and treats, toiletries and assistance information delivered.

For these bags I started utilizing Michelle Patterson Herlihy and Kristen Thompson Leeks wonderful donated food and toiletry bags from Hawaii. Thanks to David Eagan and Aimee Morris for the case of Nutrigrain Bars and juice boxes. Also Yvette Elias for making and delivering the homemade gourmet popcorn for the care bags. Nothing shows caring like homemade foods. I’ve included more scarves and hats in these bags. Many don’t realize how inadequate all types of clothing are when living on the streets. These clothing items get worn out much more quickly for a homeless person. A coat for us could last a lifetime, but when you’re homeless you’re lucky if it lasts the season. The constant wear and tear means having to find replacement items, replacement socks, shoes, coats, hats, etc. care-bags.org ‪#‎ShareTheCare‬ ‪#‎carebags‬

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”
– Winston Churchill

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I received one of the best donations for care-bags.org ever today fromMichelle Patterson Herlihy and Kris Leeks. All the way from Hawaii came four boxes containing 3 different types of packed goods for the care bags for the homeless. The first 20 bags have deodorant, toothpaste, chapstick, band-aids, bar soap, shampoo and conditioner. The next 20 bags contain, wet ones, lotion, a shaving razor, toothbrush and baby wipes. The third group of 20 zip loc bags have, individual JIF peanut butter, Kind brand chewy granola bar, Belvita breakfast biscuits, slim jims, lifesavers, and Emerald brand nut and oatmeal breakfast on the go pouches. Its obvious a great amount of thought and care went into making these bags. Its much easier to not go to the trouble, to do nothing, but not for Michelle and her friend. Its always been my hope and dream that these care bags would not only show the homeless that they are thought of but to bring others, family and friends together in a great show of empathy and dialogue for the homeless. Thank you very much for going to the trouble of putting these 60 individual bags together and shipping them out. Just really incredible…
www.care-bags.org ‪#‎ShareTheCare‬ ‪#‎CareBags‬

When I asked about how her packages came about, Michelle writes – ” It was a friend activity actually. I told my close friend here I wanted to grab some supplies to send rather than sending money, because although that’s great and I like sending money for them via PayPal going out and getting the supplies seemed like more of a personal touch. Also, I know you always have to go out and pick things up for them, so I figured it may save you a little leg work. When I threw out the idea she jumped on it and we started making individual lists and picking things up. Once we had everything we bagged them and on girl’s night aka Movie/Wine Night another friend sat down with us and we boxed them up. It was a good time! Wine and helping others, it doesn’t get much better than that! When Kris and I did it we grabbed a few extra things, as well. We’re making 10 bags specifically for kids here. There’s another woman on base that takes supplies down to homeless camps in Honolulu once a month, so we’ll give those to her.
I was honestly completely in the dark about the care bags that are done here until I began gathering supplies for Chicago.”

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