Monday, November 21, 2011

Fast Food Charity

Except during the extraordinarily hot summer months, Palm Springs has a fairly large homeless population, known as Desert Rats. They migrate to the area for the warmth and dryness of the dessert winter, much like their better off "snow birds" from Canada and the northern states.

Of course, these "snow birds" have vacation houses and RV parks to live in, unlike the Desert Rats who sleep on cardboard scraps in public parks.

I usually make a trip every eight months or so to Palm Springs to visit my father, who is a full-time resident there. Each visit usually includes a couple of trips to a nearby burger chain for lunch.

It has now become my practice to always order an extra double cheeseburger with my own meal. As I drive out of the parking lot area, I give this freshly made burger to whichever homeless person is at the exit with their cardboard "please help" sign.

Sure, it costs a bit more to do this than simply handing over a dollar bill (or ignoring their plea for help altogether). But at least I know my contribution won't be going for smokes, liquor or drugs. And it feels good knowing that a hungry person has just received something substantive to eat.

I also go out of my way to pack any non-perishable food in my condo at the end of each stay and drive to an area where the homeless hang out. Usually this means a couple bags of unused groceries get distributed to around a half dozen people.

Of course, not everyone lives or vacations in areas where there are hungry and homeless people (though I venture it wouldn't be too hard to find some if you really tried).

However, it is so easy to find a creative way to contribute to society's downtrodden. All it takes is purchasing an extra loaf of bread, a can of food, or even a few pieces of fruit and giving it to someone needy between your place of shopping and home. Or, as I do, buying an extra item at a quick service restaurant and handing it to someone.

Believe me, this is an easy routine to get into once you start seeking the opportunity to help feed one hungry person at a time. And by doing so, you will definitely be making a difference. 

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