My Experience: I was inspired by the Bags of Love Appeal due to the homeless situation and lack of affordable housing in the Sparks Reno Area of Nevada.
It’s an old story: The Endowment Effect and Loss Aversion play out in the Real Estate Market and those in the lower range of median income suffer, or are displaced into some form of homelessness (sheltered or unsheltered). Adding to the homeowner rental problem: every time wages or income increase so do fixed expenses. Tragically income contractions and loss of purchasing power are more fodder. Contributing to the homeless problem: lack of gainful employment and inability to self-employ; poor or mismatched job skills; mental illness; prohibitive medical bills; temporary incapacitation and permanent disability; drug addiction; spousal and child abuse; rejection of those dealing with sexual identity, and natural disasters. The unsheltered account for about 37% of the total homeless in America (National Alliance to end Homelessness).
After researching the homeless problem in America, concluding that I would be dealing with people that I may have fundamental disagreements with, and those with severe problems that I am incapable of addressing, my dilemma was do I
allow my own biases and or prejudices, or someones biblical verse flinging [verses taken out of context and massaged to vindicate a point of view], to stand in the way, or do I screw my head on straight and apply biblical teachings. Neither indifference or persecution are biblical, but mercy and beneficence are. Less me, myself, and I, is a good thing.
Next, I searched for and found a local charity that advocates for the homeless and poor. Unlike other local charities The Good Shepard Clothes Closet does not resale donated goods nor do they charge for their services. They provide donated clothing and other items directly to those in need. The Presbyterian Church in Reno has supported The Good Shepard Clothes Closet for a long time. The members that volunteer at the Closet are not intolerant and I see no reason to start a war of beliefs, or to become a Pharisee.
Factually, trinitarian’s have a long history of charitable outreach projects and are well organized, funded, and have notoriety. Charitable outreach projects from other religions tend to be highly targeted. Do it yourself lacks notoriety, organization, funding, and may be downright illegal based on local laws and ordinances, regardless of intentions. In Sparks, distribution of written religious materials is a protected right, however, distribution of goods (including charitable
goods) minimally requires a vendors permit. The 501c halo has advantages but requirements as well. Eyes open brethren.
Onward: I solicited ten sleeping bags from the Garden’s Bags of Love Appeal. After filling out the online form I was contacted by Sis. Analiese Beeler (The Good Fairy of the West). The Good Fairy waved her magic wand, and two days later boxes from the depths of “The Amazon” arrived. Ten ordered. Poof, ten delivered. The day of delivery from “The Amazon” Bro. Jason Grant contacted me about which card to send. I selected the generic version, and within four days the cards arrived.
I unpacked the boxes and examined the sleeping bags. Each one was individually shrink wrapped in heavy durable plastic. I filled in the blank contact area of he card, made a slit in each plastic bag, inserted the card, and taped the slit shut. I thought I would be able to deliver the sleeping bags the same week but the Good Shepard Clothes Closet recently moved from 355 Record Street in Reno to 540 Greenbrae Drive in Sparks. Due to cleaning and renovating of the new store and
unpacking and sorting of inventory I was unable to deliver until November 9th.
The day of delivery I volunteered for a couple of hours. (A short day. Dale Anderson, a volunteer, was expecting the AC installer – yes, it’s late fall, but the old one will AC no more). I completed the mundane task of sorting hundreds of clothes hangers. As time and circumstances permit I will be returning to help. Renovation tasks continue; acceptance of new donations has been halted. Once the patching and painting are completed a new floating floor will be laid. After that permanent and mobile racks can be placed and clothes and other items stocked. With volunteers scarce reopening is projected from middle December 2020, to early January 2021.
Thank you, Garden, for the inspiration. A new warm sleeping bag on a frigid December day to a dejected one may be the
moment they know that God cares, and those that understand affirm that he does.
If you are considering outreach via a Garden Project know that supplies via the Garden will be as effortless as possible. As always, you and I are our own worst enemies, and difficulties may arise. Our advocate is Christ; the teacher is God; the book of knowledge is the Bible (and the less you or I the better).
In the end, only God’s way continues.
Bro. Dale Edgett