Finally a feel good story: the Winnipeg transit bus driver who stopped his bus on Portage Avenue to give a barefooted apparently homeless man the shoes right off of his feet. This selfless act reminded me that if we all did a random act of kindness each day, what a better place this world would be.
Every day I drive around the city of Winnipeg I usually see a man at a busy intersection holding a sign. Some days I see more than one destitute man. The intersections are the same: Stafford and Wellington, River and Donald, Broadway and Main, Osborne and Stradbrook, McPhillips and Notre Dame. The signs are similar: down on luck or out of work, need money or food, please help or give what you can.
What do you do? Do you slow down, speed up or quickly change lanes to avoid interaction with this individual? Do you avoid all eye contact for fear that you might just care? Do you drive away feeling guilty? Or do you carefully check your cup holder for spare change? And hope that your car will stop at the red light in proximity to this man?
The drivers who avoid all contact probably believe that this man is making a good enough living at this corner. Some drivers say that they refuse to aid in the possible purchase of alcohol and cigarettes. Some drivers just don’t believe in giving money to strangers or beggars.
I don’t care if the man is really out of work or making a decent living by begging at this corner. I don’t care what he chooses to do with the money I give him either. I believe in helping others. I always try to give some change without any expectation or conditions attached.
I give what I can at that moment because I can. I am not rich but, I have what I need and some things I want.
I don’t have a job to offer them. I don’t have a pair of shoes in their size to give them. And I rarely drive around with a thermos of hot coffee or hot chocolate, blankets, or winter jackets. But I usually do have some spare change lying around in my car or my purse. So I give that.
If you prefer you could donate to the United Way, Siloam Mission, the Salvation Army, or Winnipeg Harvest directly.
There are also Change For the Better collection boxes located at downtown locations, in the Village, in the West End, and at MLCC retail outlets. Donations to Change For the Better help homeless people get off the street and into permanent paid employment and a healthier environment. Since 1992, over $235,000 has been raised and 100% of all donations go to homeless employment programs at Siloam Mission, Red Road Lodge and Graffiti Art Programming Inc. to name a few.
Donations to Change for the Better can be made year round at any of the 80 collection boxes set up around downtown or through their website at changeforthebetter.org.
Now that you’ve had time to think about it, what will you do next time you see a panhandler at an upcoming intersection? What will you do to make this world a better place?