I made my first in person donation 10 minutes ago! Woo-hoo! This is exciting within itself but it’s doubly exciting because I was eager to achieve this milestone before this blog turned one week old tomorrow. I did it and with a few hours to spare. Oh yes!
I know my reaction seems a little excessive in its celebration. There’s a reason for that: I am feeling a tremendous sense of relief. I had been feeling uncomfortable that I hadn’t made a single in person donation yet. However, if I’m being truthful, I know that I’d been purposefully delaying from the outset because I didn’t actually know how to start this part.
I appreciate that the concept is straightforward. We are all presented with countless opportunities to give donations every time we walk down our local high street. When I considered putting some change into a donation box or signing up for a monthly direct debit to support a cause, I felt strangely empty at the thought of it. It felt too impersonal to me. In fact I was beginning to feel foolish that I’d made this my1825 commitment but I didn’t know how to do it.
An excellent article appeared in my news feed two days ago. It was an article about care packages. A care package is a collection of items that is gifted to someone who would benefit from it. The article immediately lit something inside me. It felt right.
I raced to research my local homeless shelter and then called to ask them which supplies they needed. I was expecting for them to tell me something from the common list of care package items for homeless people: snacks, water, toiletries. “I know it might surprise you. We need backpacks”.
I learnt today that, for budgetary reasons, many homeless shelters are not able to operate a night shelter all year round. They prioritise to offer this service during the coldest months but, as May approaches, my local homeless shelter will have to cease this service until October. In preparation for this hiatus, the shelter is helping its guests to pack up their belongings to carry with them until autumn, when they can safely store their belongings at the shelter again. I was saddened to realise that many homeless people resort to using carrier bags for this purpose and, despite their best efforts, are not able to save their belongings from damage. To offer support I spent £85 to buy five large backpacks to at least help those who are in most need.
I wish to say thank you to the London Homeless Welfare Team (LHWT) for raising awareness of their valuable work and helping me to overcome my barrier to making a hands on difference. Thank you also to my little sister who was an absolute whizz at finding the most suitable backpack and did so with great passion.