I grew up in a small rural community. My graduating class had less than 100 students. The nearest town 20 minutes away only had a population of 40,000-50,000. I guess you could say that I was pretty sheltered.
I don’t remember seeing a homeless person until I was an adult. I don’t know if I just didn’t pay attention to what was going on in the world around me or if people just struggle a bit more financially than they did 20 years ago. I don’t know. I do remember some pretty tough times growing up.
When my husband and I moved South a few years ago with our children, we saw many, many homeless people on the streets, in front of Wal-mart and sleeping underneath the overpasses. I was overwhelmed with a sense of sadness.
When we had the opportunity to tour an area homeless shelter, I couldn’t pass it up. The experience was a real eye opener for us. My children and I learned that some of the people living on the streets had made poor choices- haven’t we all? But not all homeless people were drug addicts or alcoholics. Unfortunately, many American families are one paycheck, one accident, or one abusive relationship away from that same awful fate.
After our tour of the facility, the kids and I began to volunteer on a regular basis. We worked side by side with the residents as we fed those currently living in the shelter and those that are considered “transient”; meaning that they don’t want to abide by the rules of the shelter, but do seek refuge and meals there on occasion. It was slow, but we began to form friendships with the residents. I was able to rejoice with residents who made it through the program and felt sorrow for those that left.
We went on that field trip to the homeless shelter because we thought we could help make a difference in someone else’s life but we had no idea the difference it would make in ours.
This November, why not tour a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, nursing home, children’s hospital or orphanage in your community and consider ways that you can be a blessing to those that are hurting? It won’t cost any money and I guarantee that you and your children will be blessed and leave with grateful and thankful hearts.
What are some ideas you have for field trips that will allow you to also serve your community?
Visit Tonya at The Traveling Praters for more fun, family friendly, educational travel ideas.