Helping hands, Grateful Hearts

By , cottage grove, MN
You’re probably thinking to yourself, Why is she talking about being homeless?

Every year my church attends a huge conference for youth workers called “Shift.” So the youth workers and student leaders, including myself, make the seven hour drive to South Barrington, Illinois. Now, maybe your thinking, Homeless people in South Barrington? But they are one of the richest towns in America.

Yes you are correct, but after the three day conference is over we drive an hour south to spend two days in downtown Chicago. There we shop till we drop, eat at the great restaurants, site see, go down to the Navy Pier, splash in lake Michigan, and walk around till we can’t stand any longer. In this city is where I learned something I will never forget.

We finally reached our destination. Everyone quickly grabbed their luggage and darted the cars rushing towards us on the busy streets of Chicago. Excitedly we all walked inside of the apartment building where we would be staying. The apartment belonging to, my youth pastors, cousin-in-laws place.

We changed quickly for a night out on the town! We began by walking the streets and just making our selves a more familiar with our surroundings. A tradition for our group when we go to Chicago is to have pizza at Uno’s the first night we stay there. So we headed over to Uno’s and grabbed a menu. We all discussed what pizza we would be ordering. Then we continued on exploring the city as it would take an hour for them to make the pizza and clear a table for our large group. While we waited we strolled the aisles of Trader Joes, danced to the music outside of an Italian restaurant, received hugs from people wearing free hug t-shirts and took pictures of the skyscrapers and of each other. An hour had past so we made our way back to Uno’s. There we were seated and the waiter took our drink orders.
After stuffing our face with all sorts of pizza we paid the bill and started to walk back to the apartment. There we were going to change into warmer clothes because we were staying out all night! As we leaped, skipped, and danced down the busy sidewalks of Chicago a hush came over our group.

“Angie? What’s wrong?” I asked in a shaky voice.

“Emily. Look. That homeless man, look how skinny he is.”

I was holding our left over pizza and felt we should give some to the homeless man.

“Ang, we are going to be leaving in the morning.. We aren’t going to have time to eat this pizza. Do you think we can give him some?”

“Ya, that’s a great idea, we have all had enough for one trip. This man will appreciate it more than we would.”

As we approached the man I opened the box and showed him what was inside. He very kindly asked, “Are you sure you don’t want that?”

We nodded in agreement that we didn’t need it. So I gave him the box and we proceeded to walk away. We all waved bye and he started to eat it while a tear trickled down his face. I will never forget that moment.

That next day we got up, packed, and pilled into the van as we would be traveling back to Minnesota. As the drive home grew longer we all got more hyper. Singing at the top of our lungs, sticking strange body parts out the window, sitting on top of the van while going through a Taco Johns drive through, and occasionally sleeping! A few hours later, we finally got to our church were our families would be picking us up to bring us home where we would finally be sleeping in our own beds, because tomorrow morning during church, we would be saying some of the most powerful things that happened to us while we where down in Chicago. That next morning was when I shared my experiences, and I said, “We have all taken things for granite but we never think of our houses, cars, family, or even the amount of money we have. But after I met this homeless man and saw the look on his face when we gave him the pizza it has changed the way I view my life. I will never forget that day!”





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