Wednesday, April 15, 2009



Sometimes you just have to talk about what's in your heart. This is not exactly on target for a blog called Big Bad Runners and yet it is. My goal with this blog has always been to empower people through advice, techniques, encouragement not just in fitness but in their all aspects of life. Giving back or contribution is one of those incredibly empowering aspects of life. No matter how much or how little you have, when you make a difference in someones' life the joy you experience can be overwhelming!

This is actually from my other website, which I don't mention here because that's not the point.

What's In Your Closet?

If I asked you to go to your closet and dresser and take out everything you haven't worn in the last week, how big would the pile be?

OK, so maybe one week isn't realistic. Let's go for two weeks. How much stuff now?

OK, maybe you've been busy and so you haven't worked out in the last couple of weeks. Take out five days of workout clothes. What's left?

Why do we have so much?

More importantly, why do we have so much when we pass people on the street everyday who have nothing more than the clothes on their backs?

Now maybe you're saying, come on Tim, that's not my thing! Times are tough enough, don't ask me to give at a time like this. Maybe you can barely pay your bills as it is and the thought of giving to someone else is not remotely on your mind.

Let me ask you this: If you're really in financial trouble right now and are about to lose your home, wouldn't you want somebody... anybody to offer you the jacket you needed or the sweater for a cold night or the blanket for your child?

How much clothes do you and I really need? We wear the same ones most of the time don't we? Get real here! Think about what you wore in the last two months. Wasn't it the same one or two pair of jeans, the same shirts, the same underwear (washed of course), the same few pairs of socks, the same one or two dresses or skirts?

Why do we need so much?

For once in your life, do something for somebody who really needs your help. I'm not talking about the $20 donation you made under duress to the local charity because all of your friends were doing it. I'm talking about maybe even going out yourself and finding someone shivering on the street and for no reason other than because you see a need just giving them a jacket or a shirt or a blanket. Not because they asked, but because you saw a need.

This raises another issue. Do you and I look the other way when we see a homeless person coming our way?

How many of us make jokes or mock the homeless? Maybe you believe it's all their fault and its not your problem and they should just get over it and get a job!

Do you know how hard it is to get a job today? Even a low-paying minimum wage job? I do and so do hundreds of thousands of other Americans, in fact there are millions of unemployed people in this country right now who would take even a minimum wage job just to feel some sense of dignity. I'm not even talking about sending money or donating stuff to people in other countries, I'm talking about right here on our doorsteps.

How can we just look the other way?

No, one person can not end homelessness all by themselves, but you and I can change the world one life at a time.

If you find it too difficult to look someone in the eyes who has absolutely nothing but the clothes on their back and give them something just because, then seek out organizations who will do it for you! I've provided a list of a few good ones at the end of this note.

And yes, I have cleaned out my closet. I now have two pairs of jeans (I'm dropping some weight right now and as soon as I'm out of the bigger pair they're gone as well), a few t-shirts, a weeks worth of running clothes, three dress shirts, three pairs of dress pants, one suit... I hope you get the idea.

As a runner the hardest thing to sort through was running shoes, I rotate them to keep them fresh, but no area was sacred to the process. I mean, just imagine if the only shoes you owned were on your feet and had holes in the bottoms. How would you feel then? I'll bet a pair of slightly worn shoes would look pretty good wouldn't they?

Do this! It's not a big deal to you and me but to someone who has nothing it is everything!

If you don't want to go through this exercise, I understand and I pray you never need someone else to help you out in your time of need. Seek out one of the organizations I've listed or a local church or the Red Cross or Salvation Army and make a financial donation.

You can't even begin to imagine how incredible you will feel to help out! If it stretches your budget and yet you know you have really helped someone in need you will know true joy maybe for the first time in your life! Knowing that for once in your life you selflessly gave to another just because is an experience you can't compare to much in this life. It's incredible!

Here are a few of the places you can donate clothing:

Salvation Army

Goodwill Industries

Big Brother Big Sister

National Coalition for the Homeless

You don't have to give up all of your clothes, it was just a thought that bugged me until I did something about it. Maybe the next time you're walking down the street and you see a homeless person coming you offer to buy them lunch or even a cup of coffee. You can make a difference in someone's life with a simple act of kindness.

You can think whatever you want to think about that person, but that doesn't change the fact that they are a fellow human being. And you can say that you would never allow yourself to get to that point, but you've never been there and in that moment when you've lost everything and you don't know where to turn for help, it's not so easy in that moment to say what you would do.

There are millions of Americans who are one paycheck away from being homeless. Maybe even you. Don't turn your back on them like they don't deserve to be in your presence. Someday they might.

Say you don't care about the homeless guy who lost his job, his house, his family? How about the 1.3 million children who are homeless in America? What did they do to deserve this?

But that's the governments job, right? Even if it is, how many children are you willing to allow to go hungry one more night or spend another sleepless night on the streets of America while we wait for a government who can't provide health care or fix a broken economy. I'm not blaming any one person or politician, after all, we elected them and the solutions are not simple. What I'm saying is, if we wait for the government to solve the problem of homelessness in this country, its never going to happen and a lot of people (children) will suffer needlessly in the meantime.

It doesn't have to be this way! We all can do something. If you don't know what to do, send me an email, I'll help you get started.

A Caveat! Before you go out and give money to the homeless in your community, check the local laws. It turns out that many cities in an effort to remove homeless people from their communities have made it illegal for an individual to give money or even food directly to a homeless person.

I would certainly not want to be the person who encouraged you to break the law. If your city has such a law then alternatively they should also have a program designed to offer another method you can use to help out. Such programs are not always the best and certainly don't always address the issue of a person going hungry or cold at night but if they are the law they are the law.

Changing the laws is a whole other issue I'll address another time.

Please get involved. If nothing else, I hope you think about it the next time you open your closet door!

1 comment:

  1. Love this post. I worked with the Red Cross on Katrina, and did some floods in Washington, and it's so amazing how much people don't have in this country.

    I'm a huge fan of the Salvation Army! WTG on the post.