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Teaching My SonCompassion

Here is a fact about me: I moved to Arkansas from Baltimore, Maryland. In Baltimore, it was common to walk around the city and come across homeless people who asked for help. I could never bring myself to say no when I knew that I had something to give. In fact, I felt sad when I didn’t have anything to spare. I knew that no matter what challenges I faced, at least I had a safe home to go to and hot food to eat.

When I was in college, I used to volunteer to work for food pantries that collected and handed out food to people who needed it. Most of the people who came in were low-income families. However, there were also homeless people that would come in. Some weekends, we would take the food pantry on the road by putting together lunch bags and go to areas that had a significant homeless population. We would walk around and offer the bags to the men and women that were out there. Just to make sure they had something to eat that day.

Now that I live in a small town in Arkansas, the homeless population isn’t as apparent but it is still a situation that many people find themselves part of. Recently, Christian and I had the opportunity to meet a woman named Jana who was homeless and was sleeping in an empty lot in our neighborhood. Christian had never knowingly met someone who didn’t have a home and he had plenty of questions for me as we were walking back to our house. I decided to use this occasion to teach him about the fact that life is not always easy and that there are plenty of people who don’t have everything that they need. I also wanted to teach him that it is part of our duty as humans to help others when we can – even if we can only do something small. So we decided to put together a care package for Jana.

We headed to our local Dollar Tree and loaded up on toiletries: soap, toothpaste, dental floss, toothbrushes, shampoo, baby wipes, antibacterial wipes, tampons, pads, a hairbrush, and a bottle of perfume. I didn’t know how much of this stuff Jana may have already had, but I knew that these were things that are pretty necessary (minus the perfume, which I just thought would be nice to have). It is so easy to take for granted the fact that we have a way to stay clean every day and I wanted to give her some things that might come in handy.

The other thing I wanted to make sure she had was food. I saw that she had some canned food and even water, but I thought that it would be nice if she could have a hot meal as well and be able to get out of the heat. Of course, my first thought was McDonald’s. There is a McDonald’s within walking distance of where she was, so we went there to buy an Arch card.

Source: www.mcdonalds.com

Source: www.mcdonalds.com

The McDonald’s Arch card is a prepaid card that customers can use to pay for their meals both in the lobby and in the drive-thru. A hot meal is only a swipe away. You can purchase Arch cards in denominations of $5, $10, $25, and $50. One great use for them is to give as gifts. I’ve seen them used as door prizes at community events, slipped in with party favors at birthday parties, and given as shows of appreciation for team members. However, they also are a great option to include in care packages, especially since McDonald’s is so popular – chances are you have one within a short walking or driving distance.

Another great reason to consider including an Arch card in care packages is that it is easy to get your hands on them. Not only can you buy them at participating McDonald’s, you can also find them in stores like Kroger, Safeway, SuperValu, and Ahold. Plus, they are reloadable, never expire, and don’t have any fees.

Having the Arch card in the care package helped to ensure that Jana was able to enjoy a hot meal of her choice. I know that it may not seem like much in the long run, but I wanted to do something to let her know that someone cared about her welfare. I also hope that this situation has helped to encourage my son to not only see people as fellow human beings (regardless of their background), but to want to serve others in any way that he can.

 

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