Worth The Effort: An Evening Spent With The Homeless

The best things in life take effort on our part.


Standing in the back yard on a beautiful fall afternoon, it occurred to me how wonderful it would be to not have any obligations that day…to just be able to stay at home and relax.

But no, we had committed to provide an activity for a few homeless children that night, which would mean a trip to the store, a couple hours worth of preparation, an evening spent away from home….and a big step out of our comfort zone.

Time, money, comfort—three things that are rarely easy to sacrifice.

“But it will be worth it,” I tried to reassure myself. “It always is, isn’t it?” I walked back to the house, feeling weary and not quite convinced.


{Several hours later}

“Are you nervous?” I asked my daughter, as we approached the church building. “Because I am!” I confessed.

“Yes!” she said, relieved she wasn’t the only one feeling a bit of trepidation.

My son, fully confident, piped up from the backseat,

“Well, you were nervous the last time we visited the homeless, too, but everything worked out ok, right? So there is really no reason to be nervous this time.”


I appreciated his confidence.


We pulled the car into a nearly empty parking lot and made our way to the only place on the premises that showed any sign of activity—a large room with a small kitchen, a few tables, a bunk bed, a handful of couches, and a small group of people. The smell of lasagna and pumpkin pie filled the air, along with the occasional cry of a baby and the sudden outburst of young children.

We introduced ourselves to those in the room—the activity director, four mothers, 3 young children, 3 babies, and the church caretaker—and then the fun began.

Standing in a circle, we looked nervously at each other—myself, my three kids, and Anna (girl, age 9), Sarah (girl, age 9), and Isaac (boy, age 6).

“Hi! My name is Carri and I like to read,” I said, smiling through my apprehension.

I tossed the ball to the person across from me.

“My name is Anna and I like to write,” a short girl with long brown hair blurted out with a bit of spunk.

The ball was tossed to the next person and the game continued, with each round of the game asking and answering a different question.

Round 2 FAVORITE DESSERT: “My name is Sarah and my favorite dessert is apple pie,” she whispered softly, her light hair pulled high into a loose bun.

Round 3 FAVORITE COLOR: “My name is Isaac and my favorite color is blue,” he said, after a long pause and an encouraging prompt from Anna. His color choice surprised me, since he was dressed from head to toe in red.

Round 4 DREAM PET: “My name is ____ and my dream pet would be a giraffe.”


On and on we went.


Ten minutes later, we had everyone’s name down PAT and the kids were having so much fun they didn’t want the game to EVER end.

At some point, however, the game DID end and we moved on to the next activity—card-making.

Standing around a table, which was covered with glue, paper, and embellishments, I demonstrated how to decorate the top of the card with paper cupcakes and stickers and then told the kids:

“When we’re finished making these cards, you can keep a few to give to whomever you’d like and I’ll take the rest home with me to share with children who are sick or who are going through a hard time. It that all right with you?”

Anna looked at me with tears in her eyes and whispered, “We’re going through a hard time…”

“No, we’re not!” exclaimed Sarah (9), indignantly. Her strong reaction surprised me; it seemed so out of character for her.

I took a few moments to console Anna, who cheered up right away. She had decided EXACTLY who she was going to give her cards to, she told me.

“I’m going to give them to the people at the homes where we go trick-or-treating. When they open the door, I’ll hand them the card.” With a smile on her face, and a look of determination in her eyes, she set to work gluing orange and black colored paper to the front of her cards.

Isaac (6) was focused intently on his glue and paper creations, which he promptly carried to his “room”. I’d be interested in knowing who the recipients of those carefully made cards will be.


My attention then turned to Sarah and my heart nearly melted as I saw her bent over and concentrating intently on writing a friendly “get well” message inside her card. Next to the message, she drew a picture.

Completely focused and filled with the desire to lift another person, she continued, unabated, for some time.

Card after card…


First, glue cupcake on front;

then, write warm message inside;

finally, sign name on back of card where it says ” Handmade just for you by …..”.


On and on she went, unwilling to stop, even when it came time for us to leave.

Such care and compassion and concern for another, even in the midst of her own overwhelming trials.

All three children inspired me with their desire to look beyond their own circumstances and give to another person.


It was an opportunity I had hoped they would welcome and they took hold of it and ran.


My kids and I made a meaningful connection with the activity director and were invited to return again in the future, an invitation we enthusiastically accepted.

Later, as we walked to the car, we wondered why it is that we ever worry about reaching out to others, when it always works out in the end.


This night was no exception.


It was a fun-filled, heart-warming, unforgettable evening;

time and money and effort well spent;

and a tremendous blessing in OUR lives.


My son was right.

It always is.



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