Yes, I’m still full. Full of thanksgiving food but also full of gratitude (sorry that transition was so cheesy). This was my first Thanksgiving away from my family and I decided to spend the morning a little bit differently than I had in the past. Normally my Thanksgiving starts off with some cinnamon rolls and the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade. My mom is normally in the kitchen, doing all of the baking she should have done the night before, and then we roll over to our family thanksgiving a good 20 minutes late. No worries, I still got my traditional cinnamon rolls and even enjoyed a traditional holiday feast later on in the day…but I spent my morning feeding the homeless just a few miles away from my place.
I had always seen photos and heard people tell stories about the homeless in LA- particularly in skid row, but I had never seen it in its fullest. Of course, it’s no secret that there is an overwhelming about of homeless people in Los Angeles. In fact, LA county has the largest homeless population in the country. But what’s wild to me is just how close to the high rent and lavish areas they are living. People are within blocks of each other living polar opposite lives. Someone is living in a penthouse apartment enjoying top shelf wine and online shopping for the holidays while, less than a mile away, someone is living on the street unsure of where their next meal is coming from. How can there be a lifestyle difference of that degree within the same block??
Anyway. It’s the holidays and no matter who you are, everyone deserves to spend them with full bellies and a smile on their face. This year, I’ve been so lucky to make some incredible new friends- one of them being my fellow Clippers spirit member Kyla. She and her family organized a donations based food/clothing drive for Thanksgiving morning. We all met downtown, packed meals and care packages and headed to set up shop to start the hand outs.
Going into the morning, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Like I said, I had only ever seen photos or driven past a few tents under an overpass. Once we parked our cars and started walking around, I was stunned. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. Initially, I thought we would be volunteering at an actual homeless shelter or mission. But we took it into our own hands and set up a folding table with all of our meals (complete with dessert) on 7th and San Pedro, if I remember correctly. Not 30 seconds after we set up, we had a line of about 20 people. Most all of them expressed their extreme gratitude and even stayed to chat with us for a little bit.
I know it’s not much, but even being able to help out the people on that block alone gave me such a warm feeling along with a wake up call. I think in the past, I had been too scared to open myself up to even seeing that side of life. I preferred to live in my own little bubble, blissfully unaware that was a life that people so close to me in proximity lived. It’s so easy, especially living in LA, to get wrapped up in material things. I’m guilty of it for sure. I think we all are. Seeing this side of life gave me a whole new outlook on the lifestyle I live. A whole new level of gratitude for my upbringing and all of the blessings I have received. And finally, a whole new motivation to help in whatever way I can. I’m so thankful for Kyla and the friends who organized and participated in this event. Thank you for reminding me just how blessed we are and what Thanksgiving is all about.