Socks and combs.
It isn’t often that a plastic comb or a pair of socks will bring tears to a person’s eyes.
But tears flowed recently when staff from USDA Rural Development and FSA in Arizona delivered items, including the combs and socks, to homeless folks living on the streets.
They say that one of the worse things about being homeless is that the world won’t make eye contact with you.
“We have volunteered at thrift stores and food banks in past years,” said organizer Dianna Jennings, “and those were great ways to help…but this year we focused on the thousands of individuals and families that live on the streets and who we pass daily on our walks through downtown for lunch and exercise. We realized that we mostly try to avoid eye-contact.”
“This year, we wanted to interact with the folks we were helping…ask their names, give them a handshake or a pat or a hug. Tell them ‘we see you’.”
For weeks staff gathered items to put into bags for distribution. Hundreds of items like food, lotion, blankets, caps and hats and even dog food for pets was collected.
“Even in Phoenix, it’s cold in the winter,” said Jennings, adding that the temperature had dipped into the 30’s early that morning.
In roughly an hour the bags were distributed and teary eyed employees made their way back to the office, making plans for collecting and distributing items again in summer when the blistering Arizona heat puts the homeless at risk.