Help Ed Help the Homeless

I am turning 50 years old in a few weeks and I'm totally stealing this idea from Tracey Moody because, with all of the terrible news and disturbing developments lately, I'm strongly feeling the need to do something positive in the community to balance that off. So I'm going to pack up as many care kits as I can raise money to do and distribute them to the homeless here in Grand Rapids and, if I can do enough, in Lansing as well.

I don't know that I will actually purchase backpacks like Tracey did; if there is enough money donated, perhaps I will. But I will at least pack them up in plastic bags and those kits will include things like toothpaste and toothbrush, deodorant, soap and shampoo, feminine hygiene products for the women (hugely important for them and something they often don't have access to), socks, gloves and hats (winter is coming, as Game of Thrones reminds us, and the temps will be dropping by the time I get them distributed), and similar items. I'll be working with local homeless groups to make sure that the things that are most needed are included in the packs.

What I'm asking is for your help funding this project in lieu of birthday presents. For the past year and a half I have traveled the country giving talk entitled Why Atheism is Not Enough, which focuses on my own journey from being primarily an atheist activist to being more interested in humanist activism. I was very lucky to have a father who demonstrated the necessity of helping others from the day I was born. At 82 years old, he still goes out every Tuesday with a group of retired guys and they build handicapped ramps, patch roofs and whatever else is needed for those who can't afford to pay for those services. I am ashamed to say that I was in my 40s before I recognized the example he had set for me and really started to follow it.

The world is an ugly place in so many ways and it's easy to fall into cynicism, especially for me. But we cannot stop trying to improve things and we cannot stop helping others. Archbishop Desmond Tutu likes to say that you must do your little bit of good wherever you are because it's those little bits of good, added up, that overwhelm the world. Because of my health problems, I'm somewhat limited in what I can do, but I can do this. And I'm willing to do the work, and to rope my friends here into helping if I can raise enough money to make the project as big as Tracey did. I just need the financial means to purchase the items.

If you have enjoyed my writing over the last 14 years, if I have inspired you in some way, and if you can afford it, please donate what you can and help me make this a reality. It would be the best birthday present you could give me, and I only turn 50 once! Thank you.


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Ed Brayton 
Grand Rapids, MI
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