On a chilly Super Bowl Sunday night, three Charity Guys met up to do what they thought would be a pretty typical night of giving away gloves, Tim Hortons gift cards, and pet food for the occasional dog. Although it’s become a typical thing to do, one of the most memorable lessons to date was learned…
Earlier in the day, one of the Charity Guys connected with a man who runs the Value Village near Chinatown and he gave us a few words of advice.
They’ll be able to get the food they need – it’s accessible and they don’t turn people away at theses places during their operating hours. The jacket drives help us. Giving away food is great, but what seems to have more of an impact is the experience itself… making that connection.
As we were walking down Pandora, a typical anxious feeling set in as we walked by groups of strangers. It’s funny that when you’re with a group of guy friends, a bit more bravado flares up so the anxiety didn’t last long. We walked by a car park and saw a couple that were off to the side, so we approached them. We did the usual routine, but one Charity Guy was rushing to get a away. What I hadn’t realized was that there was a full needle on the ground and we walked into the middle of something a bit awkward…
What made this experience stand out a bit more was the realization that when we’re making a human connection with another person – that is the experience. What we set out to do was connect with people who are homeless or mentally ill, and show them that ‘normal’ people do care. We’ve been told that for many people living on the streets, they don’t go to many restaurants or other environments where they feel they don’t fit in. Instead, they frequent shelters and soup kitchens, creating even more mental distance between these disparaging lifestyles.
What it’s really about is connecting on a human level with people who have become accustomed to the cold alternative of being treated like a problem. What we keep getting out of these seemingly odd, yet simple trips with the Charity Guys is learning compassion. The lessons of life are often in the details it seems.
Looking at it in a different way, charity isn’t really just about giving away physical things like money or food. Giving your time to make a connection with a person can have profound effects without us ever knowing. The experience of mentoring someone is far more valuable than simply donating $10,000 to a well-known organization. The $10,000 will eventually come to zero. The butterfly effect isn’t finite like ten thousand dollars, but never-ending as it is paid forward.