At t3, we strongly believe that homelessness is not a November to January issue. It persists throughout our country in frightening and staggering numbers all year round.
But as I think about the holidays and eagerly anticipate the coziness of warm fireplaces, the laughter of family and friends, and the comfort of a full belly, I wonder if this time of year is even lonelier, colder, and harder for those experiencing homelessness?
During the winter season, many articles focus on the experiences of homeless people. Mothers who suffer because they cannot buy presents for their kids; children with no tree to decorate; college students who are left homeless when their school closes for the holidays; and individuals who must spend their days outside in the cold.
Donating turkeys for Thanksgiving, buying toys for Toys for Tots, putting money in the red Salvation Army buckets, volunteering at the local soup kitchen, donating warm clothes, and all the other forms of giving back, are wonderful expressions of the holiday spirit. These good deeds can bring a smile to a child’s face; provide a family with a holiday feast, or give someone a warm meal and warm clothes. But they are short-term solutions.
Just remember that when the holiday season ends, those experiencing homelessness continue to be hungry, cold, and without a place to call their own. Instead of getting back to business as usual, let’s ask ourselves, how do we make the next holiday season brighter?
We must continue to give. We must continue to work for public policies that increase services. We must fight for social justice. If we do this all year round, the season will be less cold, less lonely, and less hard for everyone.