Tuesday, December 1, 2015
I sometime joke that I do most of my charitable giving at Wheeler Station, a public transportation hub in Houston's Midtown. With buses from many directions and the rail that runs through downtown, an overpass, and some transitional apartments for people getting back on their feet, it's a natural spot for the homeless and down-on-their-luck to gather and ask for pocket change or bus fare.
I try to keep change and dollar bills in my pocket for these folks. Not long ago, a man told me it was his birthday and when I pulled a five out my pocket instead of a one, I gave him the five and told him happy birthday. I didn't ask for proof of birth date. He joy at receiving a five made me not care what day of the year it was for him.
Of course, it is not my most charitable giving. I doubt the change and the dollars add up to much in the long run. Pitifully as I support them, I'm pretty sure what I give to my church and a handful of charities adds up to more. Those places don't quite give the same immediate "God bless you" and other signs of gratitude, but I'm sure that's just a matter of logistics.
I see a lot of arguments about where to give, to which organization or person. I'm not sure everything can be vetted. I'm pretty sure the gift I give isn't mine to track after I've given it. It's not mine anymore.
I do believe it's important to give. If a well-off friend asked me for a dollar, wouldn't I give it to them? Why not these folks at Wheeler Station? A five dollar bill that I could squander at Starbucks brings a burst of laughter. (And Starbucks may get it after all!)
For me what really quiets any misgivings about giving is this: it's never enough.
If Wheeler Station teaches me anything, there's never enough giving, no end to it, an endless need for it.