When I lived in Atlanta, some of my church friends and I would make a bunch of sandwiches and walk around downtown and under bridges and hand them out to homeless people every Friday. We would talk to them and ask them about their stories.
Something I found interesting was that even though they appreciated the sandwiches, they equally enjoyed having someone talk to them and listen to them. Most people view homeless people as bad people or just panhandlers and would go out of their way to avoid them and act like they’re not even there. It made their day when people gave them eye contact and said hi to them, especially when my pretty female friends did it. It made them feel human to have their existent acknowledged.
Another interesting part was that many of the men I met on the streets were actually very smart and well spoken. They just either made some bad choices or had some tough breaks. There was this guy who always carried a chess set in his bag pack and I would challenge him to a game every time I saw him. I am a decent player but he would always destroy me when we played. He is very smart and probably would’ve been successful if he didn’t fall victim to his vices.
The best part of the experience was regardless of how shitty my week was, I always felt so grateful and happy after I go downtown and handed out sandwiches. They’re guys out there sleeping on cardboard boxes under bridges trying to survive the cold and avoid the rain or if they’re lucky, they’re sleeping in a tent in the woods. I got to go home to my nice, warm bed. It made all my problems seemed petty. It really put things into perspective.
It was a very cool experience and I highly recommend it.