On my way home from Walmart there was a person on the side of the road with a sign that said something about being hungry. On the grass behind him were two kids sitting. The family was not the stereo typical “homeless” that you see with the carts full of what we would classify as junk. They were not dirty and they were dressed appropriately for the weather. The sign they were holding said nothing about money, or even that they were homeless; just said they were hungry.
As we passed my children inquired why they were on the side of the road and what the sign he was holding said. I explained to them that they did not have any food and that they were asking for some. Immediately my children were up in arms and yelling at me to stop the car and give them food. I kept driving, we live about 5 minutes from Walmart, and took them home.
I need to set the scene. The four of us went to Walmart because Matt and I had decided to get serious about working out at home and we needed weights for the bar I have in the garage. On the way we also decided that there was food we needed at home. So we went to Walmart and spent way too much time and money on things that we mostly needed….
I decided that it was pretty late so we hit McDonald’s for dinner (I feel the groan from anyone who has read my weight loss blogs). We got the kids happy meals and we got ourselves a 20 piece chicken nugget box to split. With all of this in the car, including the fast food, we passed this supposed family of need.
There was straight guilt in my heart as I drove past them and my guilt was made worse by my children who told me they needed the food more than we do.
After we got home and got the kids situated with dinner I started to collect food to take back to the family. I collected a Walmart bag of food and got the little bit of cash I had on me and put it all in the bag. I drove back to the corner they were on and dropped it off. The man, I assumed was the children’s father, was extremely grateful. He told me God Bless and I walked away. Our only interaction, but that moment touched me harder than anything else going on in my life right now.
Now some of you may shaking your head at my action saying that I should not have done what I did. I don’t even know if they really are in need, they just may want hand-outs. I am encouraging their actions and if you give a man a fish nonsense. This is nonsense that I have spouted before and I believed it. But in that moment that we drove past the family, I made contact with the grown man asking for help from complete strangers while his children watched, I changed my tune. I put myself in his place.
If I was struggling enough that my children would not have enough food I would do anything, including standing on the side of the road begging. There is a possibility of being subjected to ridicule by complete strangers who think they know more about my life than me. I do not believe in my heart of hearts that they were lying about their situation.
This experience has made me realize that you really don’t know what someone is struggling with and instead of judging their actions, support them… or HELP.