Last week I dropped off the food and household items that generous Circle employees donated to the Embry Rucker Shelter for the homeless. Initially I tried to drop the donation off midday, but it turned out I needed to make a return trip after-hours. The midday trip was relatively serene and quiet. Not many people were around, and the front-desk staff even looked bored.
When I returned later that evening, the story had completely changed. Now the parking lot was very full. As I pulled into one of the few available slots, I noticed the vehicle next to me had a towel being held up in the window like a curtain. Someone who could not find room in the shelter was spending a few hours sleeping in the car. I found myself wondering, “Who is this person?” And in a fraction of a second I knew it could be ANYONE. This could be a coworker I see every day.
The front door had other clients loitering and chatting; they even seemed in a jovial mood. One gentleman asked me if it was food I was carrying in the cardboard box, and he was so excited by my affirmative answer that he quickly opened the door for me.
Were these people waiting outside just to “kill time,” or were they out of luck in getting one of the highly coveted beds in this shelter? Were they waiting and hoping that by some miracle, a space would just happen to open up?
After handing over the food to the receptionist I turned to leave, and a very friendly man asked if I had more boxes to bring, as if he were eager to offer his assistance. At that moment, I felt bad that I didn’t.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I believe we all feel thankful for what we do have, but never does the fact of how truly blessed we are really sink in until we are faced with the reality of those who have less. I am thankful that it was I who delivered that food that evening and that I got to see real life as it is for those at Embry Rucker. It took seeing the shelter in the dark to truly see it in the proper light.