Freshman year of College I lived in a two bedroom apartment facing an abandoned house. The house looked like a beat up old barn. One night, about two weeks into December, I remember looking out my window and seeing an old man. He was laying on the beat up porch struggling to get warm. The old man was wrapped up in a small blanket covered with holes and a pillow made out of old newspapers. He looked thin and fragile. Seeing the old man broke my heart. I knew I had to do something. I threw a blanket and a pillow into a bag and headed out. For whatever reason I forced my roommate to go with me. I convinced her it was an adventure we wouldn't regret. It was so cold that night I remember struggling to put on multiple layers. Once we made it outside we quietly moved close enough to throw him the bag. We must have startled him because he shot right up. Peaking through the fence, we saw the old man open up the bag and pause. Moments later I heard the man beginning to sob. My roommate and I ran to our apartment and cried together. That moment drowned me in happiness and sadness all at once. I knew we had made his night, yet I felt there was more I could have given him. The next morning I saw three men with their tractors tearing the house down. Once the new house was built, I never saw the man again.
I've never shared this story with anyone simply because I didn't want people thinking of me as such a wonderful person; I'm not. I am a human with flaws. However, humbled and motivated, this holiday season I want to give back to the homeless people of our community. I plan on purchasing warm and waterproof blankets for the homeless of Portland and Corvallis.
Homelessness in Oregon is an issue that needs to be addressed. In 2012 it was a recorded estimate of 1700 people were homeless in Portland. In 2013 the number jumped to 2,869, almost a ten percent increase. Of the 2,869 individuals recorded, 474 of them belonged to families with children, and about 34 were recorded to be under the age of 18. I’m not asking you to solve the issue of homelessness; I’m asking you to help be a part of the change.
Details about my project: I will be ordering the blankets online from NorthEastFleece. I called directly and got a 25% discount on my whole order! Shipping will be about 4-5 days. Right when I get the blankets, all my efforts will go into wrapping these up as presents. On December 23rd I will be heading to downtown Portland to hand out blankets. The following morning, Christmas Eve, I will be handing out blankets in Corvallis.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Even if you can't donate, I really urge you to do some kind of community service. Ghandi once said, "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." For many of my peers, I know fear tends to dictate our thoughts of the future. My advice would be to take time to lose yourself in the act of caring for one another. While doing so, I hope this sheds light on the direction of your academic and professional career.
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