Somethings in each day are beyond our control. When I am feeling a lack of control in my life, like I am waiting for something to happen & it hasn’t yet, or I’ve been turned down for something & it hurts, I make bags of snacks & hygiene stuff for people I meet at Baltimore’s intersections. The dollar store, ALDI, & Goodwill are great places to get the materials such as brown paper lunch bags, sharpies, high calorie/high protein snacks, travel-size toothbrushes/toothpaste combos, deodorant, tampons, combs, hats, gloves, scarves, etc. I put 2-3 things in each bag, write YOU MATTER on them, & fill a reusable shopping bag with about 10-12 bags at a time.
I put the shopping bag of all these bags put in the back seat of my car. As I stop at red lights I scan for people who might benefit from a bag of kindness trying to get their attention in the few minutes I have to meet them. Sometimes I only have 3-4 minutes to get their attention, catch their eye, have them come over to my window, & smiling at them say, “Would you like a snack and a toothbrush?” & then I wait to see what they say. Nine times out of ten they want the bag & say something kind to me. I say something kind right back, I hand over a bag, we wish each other well & then I drive off.
These very basic human interactions, they change the attention I give to driving & the way that I look at the world. I know that my “you matter bags” aren’t going to end homelessness & poverty in my community. I also know that doing nothing because the problem is overwhelming isn’t the answer either. What I do know is that human contact matters to both me & the people I meet at these intersections. Kindness matters. Finding ways to offer my humanity to strangers & make moments matters. It is a reminder that while I am far from perfect, I am doing what I can. I am saying to myself, you are flawed & you are enough.