Op-Ed: Sharing is Caring

in by
Adi Norris. Photo: Jo Kreiter

What I did on Saturday June 10th wasn’t how I ordinarily spent the weekend.  My family – mom, dad and I – assembled and delivered 10 care packages to 10 homeless people. They were all grateful in one way or another.  The last visit was especially interesting.

The care packages contained apple chips, beef jerky, baby wipes, bandages and $5.  My mom and I spent a half hour at Walgreens buying the items, and went to the bank to get 10 five- dollar bills. The total cost for each package was $20.           

First, we went to the tent city behind Bayshore Boulevard. There were two women there, one black and one white. They were in their 30s, and were cooling off in their tent. We gave them three care packages. The third one was for the white woman’s boyfriend, who wasn’t present. We also gave them our old rug, because we’d just gotten a new one. We didn’t talk much, but they gave us a hearty thank you.

Then, we went to the tent city on Vermont and 17th streets to distribute the remaining care packages. There was an older woman without teeth.  My dad explained to me that not having teeth severely lessens your chances of getting a job. There was a man wearing a plastic crown and a man with an iPhone and stereo, but the most interesting person was the last person we visited.

He was an old black man missing an eye and teeth, wearing shorts that were a little too big and a loose t-shirt. After we gave him the care package, he talked to us for a whole 15 minutes about pretty much whatever was on his mind. He talked about the police, about prison, about keeping your mind sharp. He had a different perspective on things than what I’m used to hearing. He showed compassion for the risks police take on the streets. I could tell his life hadn’t been easy. He wasn’t hopeful or hopeless, but somewhere in between.

I gave the care packages out because last June was my “coming of age” 13th birthday and I wanted to do something that helped people. Since I live in San Francisco, I see a lot of homeless people while walking on the street. It really touches me, especially since if you have some really bad luck it could be you out there in the next few years.

One of the most memorable things that happened that day was the fact that almost all of the people we met thanked us by saying “God bless you.” I think that God is a source of hope for them.

Adi Norris is in eighth grade at Alta Vista Middle School.