Lessons in generosity

August 1, 2020 -- Living City

Lessons in generosity
Organizing a breakfast drive for the homeless

One Saturday morning, I went downtown to learn firsthand how a food pantry serves breakfast to those who are homeless. Amid the current pandemic, a group in my parish wanted to serve people in need as well.

When I arrived, I saw about 40 people waiting outside for food, but there were no volunteers to serve them. Although I had not planned it, my heart called me to do something. I had some money from my birthday that I wanted to put to good use, and so I found myself buying juice and doughnuts.

When I returned, a few people in line helped distribute the doughnuts and get the drinks from my car. I talked to some of them: one had just been released from jail, another had been robbed of his cell phone, documents and clothes.

In the end, I gave one man the leftover box of doughnuts and two extra juices. While he and I chatted, others approached us for any leftovers. To my surprise, this man opened his backpack and gave everything away.

I had to give him something; God’s generosity cannot be outdone. I took out my wallet to give him some cash, and the man broke down in tears. I was so thankful that God allowed me to be a channel of his mercy that morning.

Back at my parish, we started a group called Comunidad de Amor (Community of Love). We felt pushed to find new ways to reach out to those most in need, especially during this pandemic.

We learned that not only were food pantries struggling to serve food to the homeless people, but parishes were as well. Therefore, we decided to invite different families to prepare breakfast packages, containing tacos, fruit, water and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

When the day came, our families made 130 breakfast bags. Wearing masks, a family of our parish, together with four adult parishioners, safely collected all the food and took it downtown. We set up tables in front of the shelter and laid out the bags.

Many homeless people were already lining up and keeping social distance among themselves. We first prayed together, and then invited those gathered to pick up their breakfast. Everyone was orderly and kept social distance, while expressing their encouragement and gratefulness.

The words and looks from behind our face masks brought a human touch to the work that had gone into preparing each bag. We were grateful for this experience and look forward to doing it again.

- Eduardo Alonso, Texas


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