Stillwater News Press

Columns

December 19, 2009

Keep giving after Dec. 25

The past two Christmases, I’ve gone with a group from my church to Rome (Italy, not Georgia) to work with refugees.

A group is going again this year, but I’m staying home, and I’m sad about it. I want to go, but it’s not my calling this year.

On the trips I’ve been on to Rome, we have taken food to a park and to the train station to give refugees — who are homeless — a hot meal. We’ve also taken sleeping bags, warm clothes, gloves, hats, toiletries and other necessities to give them.

These are people who have nothing. They’ve left their countries because of war, terrorism, poverty. Some have said they left because if they didn’t, they would either be killed or forced to become terrorists.

So they leave their homes and families for freedom, safety and the hope of a better life, and they end up sleeping in the train station and trying to continue their journey to a place where they can make a home.

We feed some of them and give them things to keep warm, but we’re only there a week. It’s not enough even to make a drop in the bucket of need.

And to be honest, I’ve never really known why I was in Rome. Other people — who are much better at it — do the shopping and cooking. I help carry what I can, which isn’t usually a lot, and I help hand out food, but others also do most of the talking and socializing with the refugees. I stand back and take photos. Talking to strangers is difficult; talking to strangers who don’t speak much of the same language is even harder.

But I can tell you one thing: the trips change everyone involved. Even if it seems hardly worth it, and even if you wonder what good you can possibly be, offering help to an individual in need — however small — will do more for you than you can possibly imagine.

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