I have worked with HomeAid OC for over 20 years as a board member and volunteer. In the last few years I have started donating my time and resources to fund, assemble and distribute CareKits. The standard HomeAid OC CareKit contains basic essential items such as, food, water, shampoo, soap, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and a resource card. Volunteers and community members distribute the CareKits to individuals and families living on the streets, in cars or in shelters in Orange County.
When putting together a CareKit, I always have the recipient in mind. Not any one person specifically – but rather, mothers, fathers, children, teenagers, senior-citizens, veterans – people that have lost their safety net or never had one to begin with. Depending on what items are available, I like to add as much thought as I can to the CareKit to make it special – just like I would if I were giving a gift to family or friends. What color scarf? How many pairs of socks? What about a rain poncho? Would they like canned peaches over peas?
All these things go through my mind.
What does it matter?
Will they really notice if they get a chocolate or peanut butter granola bar; a blue or red scarf; or pears over canned beans? Maybe, maybe not. But even if they don’t know how much thought goes into a CareKit, that someone out there is pulling for them and trying to instill a little bit of hope, the fact of the matter is that I know – I notice more, I care more, I see more and I want to help more.
This year, when putting CareKits together at the holiday season, I plan to keep a few people in mind that I have recently met while volunteering at HomeAid shelters or just out in my community, and add something special to their CareKit. For Norma, a sweet elderly woman who was appreciating the sunshine on a cold Sunday morning, an extra sweater; for 35 year old Sean who loves USC football, Cardinal red gloves and a scarf to match the USC beanie on his head; to Teresa, a big ball of pink yarn so she can keep “practicing” her knitting; for the guy who calls himself “Steven Seagal”, something fun and funny – because I can tell he is that kind of guy; and for the gentleman who is about the same age as my father, who when asked his name, looked me square in the eye and said, “my name doesn’t matter”, I will give him a good book and a flashlight to read by, and say “YES it does!”
I may never actually see these people again, or give them these specific items, but meeting them, and talking and connecting with them has inspired me even more – because they all matter. Join me in supporting HomeAid OC CareKit’s for the Homeless at www.gofundme.com/HomeAidOC and look for volunteer and service opportunities in 2016 at www.homeaidoc.org