Helping South Florida NULL

LoveBags

Helping South Florida's homeless... one bag at a time.

Recently, while sitting at a stoplight with friends in my car, a homeless man staggered toward my window. In a nervous effort I let out a laugh to clear the air in the car. It didn't help. The man was still there, unintentionally taunting us with his anguish. As the light changed, we continued down the road in relief, leaving the situation behind. In truth, that moment stayed with me long after we drove away, as I wondered. What happened to that man?

My interest peaked when I later heard about a grassroots organization that takes bags to the homeless'prompting me to check it out. The bags are filled with water, food, maybe some toiletries and a note to show they care'which is why they're called LoveBags.

Meeting once a week, groups of young adults gather to assemble the bags, splitting up to distribute them by bike, foot or car. The "lovebaggers," as they call themselves, take the bags to the majority of the homeless population in Broward County, making conversation with them and eventually forming relationships.

The first night I went, I couldn't help but notice that the homeless, eager to receive the bags, were more eager to see their friends'the lovebaggers.

Using the bags as a catalyst for conversation, the group of young adults focus on the importance of building relationships with the homeless'the key to success in getting the homeless off the streets, and keeping them safe. This can be seen in the case of Larry B., 51, who spent two years off and on the streets battling alcoholism. Kristin S., 24, a lovebagger who took a special interest in Larry, sought out his family for help.

For some homeless, it can be a matter of being ready to make a difference in their lives. For Larry, it was reuniting with his sister and daughter that triggered him to finally get help. Completing detox, and moving into Beginners Sober Outreach, Larry began the gradual transition back into society; getting new clothes, working a stable job, living in a healthy home and spending time with his family.

After four and a half months sober, instead of getting lovebags, Larry now gives them. Sharing his story with other homeless, because for him, "It's not about the sandwiches, it's about showing that they [lovebaggers] care." Demonstrating the LoveBags theme that, changing homelessness begins with a relationship. Today, Larry can be found playing with his two-year old grandson.

This story courtesy of www.lovebags.org.

Submitted by Anonymous


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