The 2016 BarberQue Holiday Gift Drive taught us quite a bit. First, being that homeless individuals are inundated with “giving” during the holiday season. Which makes sense – ’tis the season to give back, right? So next year, we’ll probably do the gift drive in February or March. That said, being the first year, the drive was wildly successful.
All told, we gave away 45 wrapped gifts with warmers, ear muffs, dry shampoo, winter gear and candy. Additionally, we distributed 40 food bags with non-perishable items. 200 pieces of clothing were donated, 200 loose toe warmers, and 30 “fun gifts” for children and adults.
We had mixed emotions as we passed out gifts, food bags and coats. In just the short time that we were outside, we got cold. Cold as in, full-body shivering in your snow boots cold. No amount of blankets can change that.
The first night we distributed, temperatures dipped down to eleven below zero. You better believe that as we fell into our respective beds, warm and cozy, our thoughts were with the people we had just talked to. You can’t help but wonder how people survive out there. For some, the answer is propane heaters, and next year our drive will focus on supplying those – both the heaters themselves and the propane to fuel them.
But the cold hard truth for many people on the streets is that some don’t survive.
So while BarberQue in September was a joy-filled day, the holiday gift drive was more somber. We were all struck by the overwhelming feeling that we need to do more — need to help more.
Thank you all so much for your continued support, and for helping us make this tiny bit of difference.
Sneaking a gift into someone’s cart on North Avenue near Damen. – Wicker Park, Chicago.
Distribution at the Lawrence Viaducts in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood.
Distributing gifts on Lower Wacker, Downtown Chicago.