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By: Ryan J. Woods
I once stopped behind several cars in an intersection. The winter weather was icy cold and a strong wind blew relentlessly. Ahead of me a young woman stood alongside the street rubbing her bare hands together and dancing in place to keep warm. Beside her rested a sign that read, "I have a baby and no food." She was obviously crying, (hence the tears flowing from her face) likely from the pain of the cold wind.
There are homeless and unemployed people all around us everywhere we look.
Most motorist drive by without offering any kind of assistance; maybe they have been taught that giving money fosters a dependent lifestyle, or the giving cash may be used to purchase alcohol or another substance rather than food it was intended for. Like me, they may have been taught that one should give to a local charity or through a church, as these kinds of institutions can help those in need far more effectively.
I never really understood how a homeless person could get to that point of begging, but again, maybe my lifestyle and the way I was brought up has a lot to do with it. I'm reminded of an incident that happened at a college were a couple of college students encountered a homeless man on the sidewalk. One of the students took a couple of dollars from his wallet and handed it to the unfortunate stranger. His friend surprisingly commented, "Why did you do that? He's just going to spend it on alcohol or drugs." The student answered, "Yeah... like we're not!"
As I waited for the light to turn, I felt conflicted about that young woman. Whether or not I should give money, she was obviously in need. And whether or not she actually had a baby really didn't seem to matter. I gave up guessing people's motives and analyzing their stories long ago. It was cold. She was cold. And she obviously felt she had to be there.
What should I do? Give money? What was best?
As I wrestled with these questions, the window rolled down from the car in front of me and I just looked at her and said a little prayer. I saw the young woman look up at me and smiled.
As I debated, somebody else helped. As I hesitated, somebody else acted. As I tried to decide the best way to assist, somebody else quickly did what they could. As I did nothing, somebody else did something.
Although I may still seem a little curious about somebody else's situation, I made myself a pledge that day to always do something. Whether it is big or small, just do something. Something is almost always better than nothing!
A great educator Leo Buscaglia once said, "Too often we underestimate the power of touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." Don't underestimate what you can do! Each of us can do something, and the something you do may be more important than you'll ever know.