Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Holidays?

The holidays are approaching like Beliebers rushing the stage in a cloud of shrieking pandemonium. Those on tight budgets are slowly working their way toward ulcers over how to afford the vision they have in their minds of a gleeful Christmas morning. Others are working in the same direction due to anxiety over another family holiday. In the midst of the chaos and stress, I would like to offer a concept for your consideration.

We all know the statistics about homeless LGBT kids so there's no need to get into that again but how many of us stop to consider what those numbers mean in real terms. Winter is a brutal time to be homeless. Right now in your city, there are dozens of kids shivering on the street in layers of filthy clothes looking for a place to huddle tonight to keep warm. They won't sleep because sleeping in temperatures this cold is impossible. They've already been to the shelter and all the beds are taken so there is nowhere to go to keep warm. They will spend the night wandering exhausted and cold looking for a safe place to huddle preferably, where they can light a small fire to warm their hands. If they're lucky, the worst of their problems is being too cold. If they're not they're also fighting an illness shuffling around in a feverish daze.

These kids may not be our flesh and blood but they're still "family". They're the less fortunate members of our LGBT community living an existence much harsher than most of us can comprehend.  To us it's just a story. To them it's reality.

This year I encourage you to consider giving to an organization that can provide a half-frozen teenager with wool socks to keep their feet warm, gloves to keep their hands warm or tiny chemical packets of heat to tuck in their shoes or pockets to stave off the cold for a few hours. Before you start with the excuses that you're too busy or too broke let me offer a few alternatives to traditional giving.

If you don't have the financial resources to donate cash then donate your time to a local youth shelter. Bake cookies for the employees who are paid very little to keep the charity functioning and will be sacrificing time with their families this holiday season to do so. Knit a few extra scarves and donate them to a shelter. Start a community drive to gather donations. Clean out your closets and donate the winter clothes you don't wear anymore.

We have the good fortune to sleep in a warm bed, shower with hot water and dig into the cupboard for something to eat when we're hungry. These kids, abandoned by the parents who claimed to love them have none of that. They're not expecting to celebrate Christmas. They're just hoping to survive it.

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