My husband threw a few logs on the fireplace the other night and standing there watching the dancing flames, I had a feeling of guilt overtake me. I thought, “I am really blessed in the grand scheme of things! I have a roof over my head and a kindling fireplace to enjoy the warmth with my family. Yes, I am blessed; however, too many families aren’t so fortunate.”
As the cold air whirled outside my cozy home I knew there is someone; some family; some small child who was not warming by a fireplace but who instead would be fighting off the frigid weather, without a home and some even without basic winter apparel. Far too many people will go through this Holiday season struggling to stay out of the harsh elements and we will sit around our fireplaces with our families enjoying life. Is that a bad thing, of course not? Nevertheless, it should be concerning to us that at last count; there were nearly 250 people in this community without a permanent residence.
Yes, 250 men, women and children in THIS community are homeless and that number continues to grow annually. What can be done? Great question and the first part of the answer is awareness. Familiarize yourself with the community’s homeless issues. The week before Thanksgiving is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week and the Macon County Homeless Advisory Council, a subcommittee for the Continuum of Care sponsors awareness events during this week each year. One such event that has taken place for over 10 years is “Box City”. The committee gathers local youth groups, provides speakers, activities and construction of a box city where the youth sleep outside to experience a night without a warm bed.
This year we held “Box City” at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church here in Decatur and it was one of the coldest nights on record for the event. I do want to thank the church and the youth for sticking it out with my husband and me! As I mentioned earlier, the warm fireplace was very much appreciated after that sleep out but at least we did not have to go back out there the following night. This is where my guilty feelings crept in, as I enjoyed the roaring fire.
A second part of the answer is to do something. Volunteer your time and talents or donate to local efforts. If you need information about volunteer opportunities or a list of local efforts please feel free to contact the Homeward Bound office, 217-362-7700. In the meantime stay warm and filled with the joy of giving this upcoming Holiday season and throughout the year!