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  • Writer's pictureBelinda Lane

Discussion: Giving Back

Written by: J. Anthony Spencer.

March 3, 2023

When you read this, there will be seven more weeks before the first Love the Hopeful Market of 2023. If you have read some of my writings, you may have heard me mention Love the Hopeful before. The seed for Love the Hopeful was planted within my niece, Cynthia Brinkley Scott in 2001. Now twenty-two years later it has expanded in many ways. I bring up LTH because it is one of the personal ways that the theme of giving back has meaning with me. In my household we talk a lot about giving back. What we do, what we can do and its impact. There is nothing better than giving something to someone who may be less fortunate than yourself.

Our church, Victorious Living Faith Ministries embraces this mantra. Our building sits in a small community in Baltimore County called Essex. The church as a whole has become a part of Love the Hopeful, as they have become a part of us. But outside of the monthly free market, we are constantly working on ways of giving back in a large part to Baltimore. Also in a smaller and in some ways and more important part to our immediate community. We did a Back to School giveaway that many people in the community took advantage of. We have had an event listed as “Praise on The Parking Lot” where we offered food, literature and music. And President’s Day last month, we had a food drop where we again made it available to the community.

The point that I am trying to get across is that some people may be homeless, some low income or someone will just be in need at the time; that is when we must give back. Giving back is a gift for the giver, as it is for the receiver. I’m looking forward to the 3rd week of April, to see familiar faces. I have to admit this has not been a particularly brutal winter. We have had our share of cold days, but there has been nothing that we in Maryland class as a real snow. Even our coldest days have not stretched into the weeks that it has in the past. But for the Hopeful that don’t have a home/house to call their own, face many things other than the weather. We don’t forget the fact that our free market provided for them food and items that would be hard to come by otherwise. The Hopeful looks forward to that one weekend a month where things are freely given; with a smile and with a kind word.

Maybe not in the rural areas, but for those that live in the city, know the likelihood of approaching a corner where someone is there with a cardboard sign asking for help. We can formulate in our heads that anything you give will be used to purchase alcohol or some other illicit substance. But are we just being judgmental? Do we know their story? What lead them to lead this life? Do you think this is what they planned to be when they grew up? What separated their life from our own? How many of us have faced or been evicted? And with that eviction, were you lucky enough to find a new place? How many trails did you face before you could go to a new place? Many of the people on the street faced that very situation. The only difference is that they weren’t able to recover and found themselves homeless.

I’m not naïve to the facts that there are many reasons that people find not being able to meet the challenges of life. But as I stated before, no one is inspired to find themselves in these positions.

Let’s move away from homelessness to being low income. They may have a job, and for whatever reason, whatever money they are getting paid is not enough to cover everything in life. Imagine having to constantly make a decision to pay rent or buy food. This happens more than you know.

The following are personal accounts. Our last LTH Free Market was in December and earlier that week a palate of Dole fruit (containers) was delivered. Though we took a lot to the market, we had a considerable amount left. I kept boxes of the fruit in the car and when I pull up to that before mentioned corner I would hand them out. One such instance comes to mind not far from my home. I came upon a young man, fairly well dressed but was on a crutch due to his missing left leg. The priceless look on his face as he took the box and exclaimed, “These are my favorites, Bless You” has stayed with me to this very day.

On my way home a couple weeks ago, I stopped at a drive thru ATM and as I exited I saw a family at the exit of the shopping area. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any of the fruit at the time. The father held the sign requesting “anything you give would be appreciated”. Seated on the ground beside him is what I took to be his wife and daughter of about ten years of age. I rolled down my window and informed him I would be back within the hour with something for them. I returned with several boxes and though I am not fluent in Spanish, I knew the appreciation that he and his family expressed. I have encountered both this family and the handicapped young man on separate occasions and they both recognized me from the previous times.

Those you give to probably consider it a gift when you give something to them, regardless if it was solicited or provided. But from my early days with Love the Hopeful until today it is hard to explain the feeling you get when you give. Most times they appreciate it. There are instances where it does not appear what you are given is appreciated. Unfortunately, we come upon people who may suffer mentally or emotionally and cannot articulate a response. But to me the fact that they accepted it means they may need it.

I don’t hold a monopoly on these actions and feelings. I have spoken a lot about Love the Hopeful and my church, but there are others we are associated with. R&J House of Harvest LLC is my immediate family who spend time both at LTH and go out a couple times a month to feed the less fortunate. Sandy Johnson has a Heart to help is a component of our ministry. F.L.O (Friendly Loving Opportunities) is a Nonprofit that provides relief to homeless in the greater Baltimore area. There are many organizations that do less and some greater in the multitude of cities and communities around the world. But the main thing is that they give back. This was just something in my spirit I had to get down and out. If you haven’t given back, for whatever reason, it is never too late to start. Only then can you feel how rewarding it is.

Thank you for joining me for Friday at Sundown. Remember… Just Breathe!

Helping the Homeless | She was Just Hungry - YouTube

(Disclaimer: We do not own the rights to the scene in this video)

About Our Writer: J. Anthony Spencer has and wears many hats in the six decades he has been on Earth. Son, brother, husband, father, uncle just to name a few. When you hear the term Jack of All Trades, Master of None, you may think of him. Retiring from the federal government in 2012 only enabled him to do more things with his family, friends and church. Trials and tribulations have been many, but so have the blessings.

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