Winter weather is cold, harsh and nasty. Even if you can fend off the cold, wrapped up in a blanket and cozy indoors with your tea or cocoa, there’ll always be somebody just like you sleeping on the brutally cold, hard, uncompromising concrete or asphalt outside. No tea, no cocoa, no warm fire or cat on their lap. Just wet, shivering, frostbitten misery.
That thought has always haunted me. Because that’s a real person, exactly as real as I am. They are as miserable in those conditions as I would be. I don’t want them to suffer for the same reasons I don’t want to.
The real, long term solution to homelessness is the housing first movement which always needs donations. But what can individuals do for those stuck on the streets, to supply some measure of immediate relief and soothe their own aching hearts?
I’ve written in the past about stashing away small care packages in your pocket, car or backpack so when a homeless person asks for help, you have something to give besides cash (which may be spent on drugs). But my earnings have gone up, so I can afford to give more. That means it’s time to step up my game.
Care package 2.0 contains lots of goodies in a waterproof tupperware container. This is for the same reason I bundled the gloves I gave away in ziplock bags, so they have a way to keep what you gave them dry. It rains a lot in this state after all.
As you can see, each package contains one bottle of Soylent which is shelf stable (no refrigeration needed) for one year. It contains the usual mylar bivvy sack, but I left it in the package so it will be self-explanatory what it’s for and why it’s useful despite being so thin.
Each package contains a Zippo catalytic hand warmer that warms for 12 hours per fill. I’ve pre-filled them all. The homeless around here always seem to have lighters, so I imagine they can get their hands on lighter fluid. Critically, these hand warmers are flameless, so they don’t pose a fire risk.
They can even be tucked into the bivvy sacks. Many backpackers stick a hand warmer of this type into the toe of their sleeping bag to stay warm. The only caveat is that it’s not safe to close it over your head, because of the fumes. I’ll include a note warning not to do this.
There’s also a pair of nice clean, dry socks. The largest size as I figured better too large than too small. I mostly included these because there was some empty space under the Soylent bottle I wanted to fill with more goodies, and socks fit the whole Cozy Toes motif.
I have ten packages, but only 7 bottles of Soylent for the time being. So only 7 of them are fully complete and ready to give out at the time of writing. 4 of them are in the trunk of my car, three are in my backpack. Never be empty handed! Always have something to offer.
I wanna close this by talking about motivation for giving. It feels iffy to write about a project like this because it smells like virtue signaling. “Oh look how good I am, look everybody and praise me!” But on the other hand, by making an article about it I can raise money to pay for it.
I can also popularize this practice, inspiring others to do the same. Finally, while the ideal is to give charitably in secret to preserve the purity of the altruistic act, the fact of the matter is that more people will give if they’re allowed to talk about it.
In the end, does it really matter why people help? I don’t think so. It only matters that they do it. It only becomes obscene when you have people comparing their charitable actions to other’s in order to puff themselves up. In my opinion, that’s where the line is.
Giving out of a love for humanity and receiving commendation for it isn’t crass. It will motivate more giving and multiply the good feelings which result for everybody involved. So I urge you to make sure you always have something on hand to give to those who ask, however small, and post about it here. I’ll be the first to upvote you.
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