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That each of them may eat and drink

If you are new here, you may want to read about the sorrowful event that inspired this small project.

While researching a way to reach out to the homeless community, I was reminded our church has an established ministry with the people who live in Denver’s Civic Center Park. Once a month, for the past 7 years, a group meets with people who need the basics in life. They deliver donations of food, medicine, clothing, sleeping bags, and many other items that make life on the streets and parks safer and more bearable. A woman named Cathy Speck runs the ministry.

I chatted with her about what is going on these days. Is there an increase in homelessness? One thing she’s noticed is the community seems to be getting younger and includes many more families than in the past. These aren’t the hardened, grizzled men people stereotype and fear. They are simply people who are like you or like me. They are people who once had homes, jobs, and normal lives.

I’ve been in contact with Jeffrey’s brother. He told me that Jeffrey had only been homeless since late May. He is trying to piece together the last few months of his brother’s life. I hope he finds answers and understanding.

Because there is so much work to do, it is apparent people need to work together. The church’s website mentions fast food gift cards as a way to help. I would love it if you would join me in donating fast food gift cards that will be distributed during the group’s next outing on September 17th.

Why fast food gift cards?

1. A little bit of money goes a long way.

2. Restaurants are cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

3. With a gift card in hand, people are welcomed as customers.

4. In an urban setting, fast food restaurants are plentiful and easily accessible.

Will you consider sending a fast food gift card to give a person a boost? This is something that won’t change a life, but it’s a way to relieve a burden. It’s simple. You can involve your children. Our kids are going to help with record-keeping. They are too young to help pass out the cards, but they aren’t too young to understand the power of a community of caring people, united.

If you are interested in helping, please send an email to me through my contact form, or if you already have my email address use that. The cards would need to arrive in Denver by September 15th in order to be distributed this month. Also, I’ll be happy to answer questions. I would appreciate it if you spread the word through Twitter or Facebook or at your own blogs. I have never, in nearly 7 years of doing this hobby thingie, done anything like this. It’s a small start, but multiplied with the help of friends, it can turn into something beautiful.

Thanks, everyone.

(title from Ecclesiastes 3:13 NIV)

(edited to add: Please feel free to leave a comment if you want me to email the address to you, or use the contact form. Also, the coordinator said McDonald’s and Burger King are the best bets. They are close, easily accssible walking or via bus)

15 comments to That each of them may eat and drink

  • Is there a paypal account or something like that I could send money to instead and let you break it into whatever you think is best for size and type of card?

    • Gretchen von Lifenut

      Hi Sarah!

      Yes, we have a Paypal account. I can get the information to you. We may even just install a button if that would be easier for people? Never thought of that option, but I’m sorta new to this stuff and am learning as we go along.

  • I have a bunch of coupons for free hot oatmeal from McDonald’s. Does that count?

  • That’s a great idea! I’m going to get some to hand out to the homeless people I pass. I can’t believ I never thought if that.

    • Gretchen von Lifenut

      Kristy, that is one of the tips the coordinator gave to me. She said that she gives out gift cards instead of money when she sees people on exit ramps/corners. They can’t be used for anything but food, so it takes away the argument that homeless people will just use donations for drugs and alcohol. I think it’s odd that anyone could ever argue over feeding a person. Keep a stash in your car or bag. I’m going to start doing that, especially if I anticipate I’ll meet people who are down on their luck.

  • Shayne

    Gretchen, as I finished reading this post, I glanced up at the header to your blog, which has become so familiar that I rarely scrutinize it. By this project (as well as many other aspects of your life), you are living your tag line — “Action is eloquence.” You continue to inspire me.

    We will try to pick up some gift cards this weekend and get them in the mail to you. I also love the idea of keeping a stash of gift cards in my purse for when I encounter homeless people here at home.

    • Gretchen von Lifenut

      Thank you so much, Shayne! So many people are going to benefit from your kindness, here and in Houston.

  • Lucretia

    We used to get Denny’s, Village Inn, or Perkins – a $10 gift card is often the difference between being out in the rain or snow and being inside with food & hot coffee. But I like this idea because it seems that fast food places are less likely to hurry someone out (which is sad, but true.)
    Majorly cool that you’re getting involved here.

    Another thing to remember is that homeless women have ‘sanitary needs’ once a month and it’s often a horrible thing for them to have to ask someone for. A $5-10 gift card at Walgreen’s (or CVS if they have those in whatever city it is) can help them not have to deal with that.

    p.s. is there a link to the paypal button I’m missing?

    • Gretchen von Lifenut

      Hi Lucretia! Thank you for stopping by and for expanding the scope of what will help.

      I don’t have a PayPal button, yet. I may install a ChipIn widget, actually, and will let everyone know when it goes live.

      Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  • I have a TON of hygiene products I’ve gotten for free with couponing – would those be helpful to pass out Gretchen? Toothpaste, deodorant, feminine hygiene, soap, shampoo etc.

    • Gretchen von Lifenut

      Daria, YES. They collect all sorts of items that make daily life more bearable, including everything you mentioned. Let’s try to meet up and I can get them to the coordinator before their next trip to Civic Center.

  • What a great tip!

    I’ll email you…

  • The coupons are freebies. Email me your address and I’ll drop them in the mail. I knew I was holding onto them for a reason. In the wintertime, that hot oatmeal will be a treat.

  • Gretchen – What a wonderful way to help the homeless. I’ve added the widget to my blog Good luck with the donations. I may even grab a few and keep them in my car for when I see someone. A good way to give them a boost and a warm meal.

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