What I Did:
Fannie Mae’s Help The Homeless Walks provides a fundraising model for community non-profits working to end homelessness. For 25 years they’ve helped in the Washington DC area and have now expanded to Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, and LA.
Churches, schools, book clubs – any group that wants to participate can set up their own event and choose which homeless assisting non-profit their donations will benefit.
When we made plans to visit my brother and his family in Washington DC, I told him I’d need a place to volunteer while there. A friend of his directed me to the Greater DC Cares website. The same format as my local favorite, Hands On Portland, it looked like finding a volunteer opportunity would be no problem.
However, I didn’t anticipate volunteer openings for our date range filling up by the time we arrived in DC. I needed a different option.
On his Metro commute home our first night there, my brother sent me a text with the information on this poster:
For a donation of $30 per adult and $20 per youth, our whole family could walk a DC neighborhood and know our money would help the less fortunate. Now this vacation volunteer opportunity spoke to me!
We chose our walk with Central United Methodist Church in Arlington because their event date fit in with our sight seeing schedule.
(I know. The irony of raising money for those without homes while we are on vacation is not lost on me. Just like when we volunteered this summer feeding the homeless and then went back to our resort vacation, I’m conflicted.)
Our walking party included Edd, me, our youngest, my brother and his 5 year old daughter. We took the Metro to the Ballston neighborhood and found the church across the street from the station. Inside the fellowship hall, t-shirts to wear and signs to carry waited for us.
Central United chose to benefit A-SPAN (Arlington Street People Assistance Network), a non-profit dedicated to serving those living on the street with meals, medical assistance, drop-in sites, winter shelters, and a even a permanent supportive housing program.
The walk itself was short, just around the block. For me, the opportunity to meet a few new people, to listen to my daughter share with my niece about the importance of helping others, and to advertise for A-SPAN around the neighborhood made this a worthwhile Sunday morning.
How To Help:
If you live in one of the metro areas HTH Walks serves, helping is as simple as finding a date or cause that works best for you and registering. Organizing an event with HTH Walks looks inviting, also.
Even though the program isn’t offered in Portland, we have awesome resources for our homeless nearby.
I encourage Portland area residents to participate with NCompass’ Christmas Festival for the Homeless. The event is in December, but we are deep in donation solicitations NOW.
If your church, workplace, or other group would like to set up a tree with donation cards that looks something like this, comment below and I’ll hook you up:
If we get enough of these trees set up in the area, providing for 1000 homeless this Christmas won’t be a problem.
Or maybe you’d like to get your Christmas shopping done this weekend. My friend is donating ALL PROCEEDS from this Stella & Dot show to the Festival for the Homeless. Page through the website for beautiful jewelry, gorgeous scarves, dazzling cell phone cases, or fabulous handbags. The show ends October 21 – so get your order in now.
(Again, I get the irony of spending money on extras to feed those who have nothing. But if you are going to shop anyway, you may as well make a difference.)
There are many out there who, through one situation or another, will not have a happy holiday this season. Is there a way you can share some of your blessings with another?