Recently on the Kindness Blog I read about a man in Minneapolis, Minnesota who is locally called the *Sandwich Man: “Allan Law is a retired school teacher and every night he drives all around the streets of the city of Minneapolis giving away sandwiches from the back of his car, along with some other basic supplies. He is fully committed to his cause–serving the poor and homeless is a number one priority for him. It is estimated that he handed out over 520,000 sandwiches on the streets of Minneapolis last year.”
It made me think of the many things we do during our lives that become a habit. This man is deeply entrenched in the habit of kindness.
After I stopped crying, I thought of how it is possible to make a habit out of kindness. Oh, I do things during the year to be kind, but I am more of an anonymous giver than living it as does Alan Law. I generally do things “under radar” so that 1) I don’t embarrass anyone by an obvious gesture, and 2) so I can keep giving without the givee feeling beholden in any way.
The Crankee Yankee and I often fantasize about what we would do if we ever hit the lottery and won an insane amount of money. After doing all the sensible family things like health insurance, living wills, behests, and the like, we would have an awful lot of fun giving a lot of it away.
It breaks my heart when I hear of someone having to surrender their beloved pet because they can no longer afford to feed them and/or give them basic veterinary care. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a system in place at the local vet where whatever they needed could be given free?
Then there are the animal shelters who are in desperate need of funds to care for an ever-growing animal population, not to mention the constant need of food, litter, blankets, etc. Wouldn’t it be great to make an endowment to them so that everything could be taken care of expediently? And the list goes on..and then there are people whom we would love to help anonymously.
But look at those who may not have much to give, but they give what they can, like the Sandwich Man. He travels the streets of Minneapolis every night, handing out sandwiches, blankets, hats, mittens, socks, gloves, clothing, basic necessities, and more than that–he gives hope to many who have no hope. This isn’t some rich person flinging gold coins to the masses; this is an older man who puts his own health in danger by driving through the streets each night, looking for those who may need his help.
That’s putting kindness in action. I sure do wish I could hug Alan Law for all he does, but I can do the next best thing–pay it forward. And it needn’t be sandwiches or clothing or cash. It can be a smile, a hug, a handshake, an acknowledgment of another human being who may be temporarily down on their luck. It can be a word of encouragement given along with a few dollars.
I know that many people are adamant about not giving money to those who beg; they don’t want to foster or fund habits like drugs and drinking. But how do you tell? And why judge? I know that when my heart tells me to open my wallet, or hand someone a pair of my handmade earrings or pay the toll for the person behind me–I do it. If someone is scamming me, well–not my problem. I can’t judge because I have years of judging people to atone for, and I pay it forward as I can.
Just imagine what it would be like to be out on a cold street with nowhere to go, no one whose eyes light up to see you, no way to stay warm or be sheltered or fed–and then a man drives up, and hands you a sandwich.
That’s love in action. And can’t we all spare a bit of that?