Drop-off day at HYRC
Monday October 12, 2015 arrived. With the entire back of my CRV filled with moving boxes containing 250 “Love Bundles,” along with donations of toothpaste, lotion, and other sundries, Annie, Richy and I arrived at the Homeless Youth Resource Center at the appointed time for our drop –off.
The facility was alive with young people getting breakfast and other necessities, as well as kind words and a reminder that there are people who care. We weren’t able to take pictures because of confidentiality issues, but we can report that the youth were curious about what was in the boxes and Annie saw excitement on their faces.
As I reflect back on this year’s Project Love Bundles Campaign, my heart swells as I think about all the effort that was put into making this act of compassion a reality. I have come to understand that a “love bundle” is symbolic of much more than providing needed items for our homeless youth.
As I see it, a love bundle can be separated into at least 3 parts; each part touching the others.
There is a scene from the 1984 film a Christmas Carol with George C. Scott, in which the ghost of Christmas Present opens his opulent velvet robes to reveal two gaunt, frightened children. Scrooge is visibly horrified by this unexpected raw vision and his humanity is awakened. The children are introduced as “Ignorance and Want” and like Scrooge, everyone of us is faced with the realization that as much as we cover our eyes with robes to not see it; there is great suffering in the world. While it remains hidden, we can move through our lives ignorant to the wants and needs of our fellow man; but when our eyes are opened; our hearts are also.
To make visible those who are unknown or forgotten is one of the main goals of Pioneers of Peace™
Before we can make a difference, we must first be aware of what needs there are, so, raising awareness about homeless youth was an essential piece of Project “Love Bundles.”
Many people had never considered that children without adult supervision could be homeless. Many didn’t know there is currently not a shelter these young people can sleep in. Many did not know that something as simple as a pair of socks and lip balm were so important to people living on the streets or camping in the canyons.
Because of Project “Love Bundles,” many eyes were opened and the plight of our homeless youth is now in the minds of those who participated on every level.
There were those who taught their small children about other’s who do not have homes and loving families. One such family chose to write quotes on origami paper. In addition to writing the approved quotes, they personalized each piece of paper with darling drawings expressing their love and compassion.
Another woman mentioned she had donated money to the shelter that is being built.
I was found folding paper cranes all over the city. People asked what I was doing and I would tell them about homeless youth in SLC. Often they were surprised that this population even existed.
Clerks at the fabric store wanted to know what all of the red fleece was for and so I told them…
Family and friends came together to make scarfs and because of social media and word of mouth, socks were delivered by mail from various states in the country.
Abraham Maslow educated the world on what has come to be known as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It teaches that the most basic needs of food and safety must be met before man can reach his potential.
I once heard that seeing people suffer from lack of these basic needs becomes a disease of the soul. Something primal is triggered when visions of homeless hungry children come into view. Our human nature is awakened, heartstrings are plucked, and we are motivated to reach out and ease suffering. Compassion creates energy to do good.
During this campaign I witnessed evidence that compassion is alive and well in our community.
One woman was careful to buy the softest fuzziest fleece she could find, saying, “Those kids need to have soft scarfs around their necks.” She also bought extra warm wool socks to protect against the cold and wet; and to top it all off she packaged her donation with boxes of dryer sheets so it would smell good (like home) to whoever received her gift.
Another gentlemen showed up on my doorstep with bags filled with fifty pairs of new socks saying, “I was kicked out of my house when I was young; I was lucky because somebody took me in. I want to help.
One woman said, Most of us have had problems one time or another with our kids, or we know someone whose child has left home. I can’t bear the thought of them being vulnerable on the streets…and they are wrong if they think no one cares about them.
Awareness (thought) begets compassion (emotion), and compassion begets giving (action). At Pioneers of Peace™ our motto is “Walk Not Just Talk.”
- It is important to be aware of today’s problems and feel compassion, but change is most effected through action.
- Action is the glue that makes awareness and compassion stick.
- Action is the opposite of “Ignorance and Want,” from Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.
Project “Love Bundles” is awareness and compassion in action. It was alive with energy. One could even say it was a “movement.” Countless people mobilized to make a difference in the lives of our homeless youth by giving of their time and money on so many levels.
In total we received 300 handmade scarfs, 270 pairs of new socks, 250 protein bars, 250 handmade paper cranes with quotes written on them, 250 hand warmers, 40 toe warmers, 250 tubes of lip balm and extras like bottles of lotion, tubes of toothpaste, gloves, and laundry detergent.
Packages were left on my doorstep daily; some anonymously, and some in the arms of beautiful smiling faces. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the generosity displayed.
One Sunday evening my doorbell rang. I opened it to a group of elementary school-aged children with bundles of scarves in their arms. They greeted me with, “These are for the teenagers.”
Another evening my doorbell rang and a dear woman I hadn’t seen for years had a big box filled with scarves that she and her married daughters had made.
Many others gathered around tables measuring and cutting fabric and eventually handcrafting that fabric into scarves. Children observed and helped.
3 small children meticulously threaded raffia onto labels and felt the joy of doing their part in helping others.
It takes 10-15 minutes to fold a paper crane and one generous woman made over 90, not to mention the other woman who handwrote 150+ quotes on the paper before it was folded.
New socks and protein bars are not cheap. People bought bolts of fleece and measured, cut and fringed them by hand. The hours of labor and dollars contributed to this project is staggering.
2015 Assembly Team
A “Love Bundle” is a handmade fleece scarf with a pair of new socks, a packet of hand warmers, a protein bar, a tube of lip balm, and a handmade paper crane with a quote written by hand on the back of the origami paper. The quotes were chosen to provide motivation and a self esteem boost and do not include any religious messages. All of these items are rolled up like a cinnamon roll and tied with raffia.
They were designed to be a gift containing necessities thoughtfully packaged, much like a birthday gift for a well-loved child. That in and of itself would’ve been enough, but it was so much more.
A “Love Bundle” is a gift that embodies awareness, compassion, and action. It is a spokesman for homelessness, a heart expander, a friend, and a vehicle for bringing people together in the service of others.
We at Pioneers of Peace™ wish to express our deepest appreciation to everyone who made this campaign a success. In the words of Margaret Mead,
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
If you feel inclined to share your experience with Project”Love Bundles” 2015 please comment. We’d love to hear from you.