At the end of a very long line one cold January day, he waited patiently. Not ready to head back out into several feet of snow, he bypassed the racks of coats, piles of blankets, warm gloves and all variety of winter hats – beelining straight for the boots table, ticket in hand. The new boxes, stacked high and wide earlier in the day, were all gone or left behind, empty. We searched together for anything waterproof and warm in a size 11 or 12. Instinctively, I looked down at his water-stained pant hems and wet canvas shoes and prayed – apologizing to him and swearing to myself – next year I would do whatever I could to help BRING MORE BOOTS.
The story that started it all.
Just one short paragraph on my personal Facebook page, inspiring acts of kindness from friends and strangers, teaching me that stories have the power to change lives.
The following year, I was able to bring a van full of warm, waterproof boots with me to the Homeless Stand Down. A promise kept.
Then last year, as part of my pitch presentation at the Cleveland Leadership Center’s Accelerate: Citizens Make Change event, that same story laid the foundation for what would eventually become The Good Cause Blog.
This time each year, as the temperatures begin to drop, I think of all the men, women, and children who don’t have a good pair of boots or a safe place to go. But my heart is quickly warmed, knowing how much compassion and generosity the Homeless Stand Down always inspires. In fact, it was exactly three years ago today that my sister and I launched our first “Boots and Britches” campaign in honor of the man in the story above. Many things have changed since then, but the lines at the Homeless Stand Down continue to get longer each year.
On January 14th 2017, an estimated 1,500 guests will arrive for a day of personal care and connection at Cleveland Public Auditorium for this year’s Homeless Stand Down event. It takes hundreds of volunteers and thousands of dollars (plus countless donations of time and talent) to create this unique day of service. Guests also receive access to social service providers, haircuts, medical screenings, live entertainment, professional portraits, breakfast and lunch, free winter clothing, personal care kits, bus passes and much more.
Visit the HandsOn Northeast Ohio web site to find out more about the Homeless Stand Down or make an online donation using this link. $50 pays for a pair of warm, waterproof boots. $10 covers underwear and warm socks. $5 means a bus pass home or to a doctor appointment.
Boots, coats, gloves, hats and other items are requested in new or nearly new condition. Donations must be arranged/approved prior to drop off. Please call 216-432-9390 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your pledge to donate by January 9th. The items that are always in most need include men’s boots (Sizes 10-14) and winter coats (XL, 2XL, 3XL, 4XL). Item donations will be accepted through January 11th.
Want to make a promise of your own? because I said I would is a Cleveland-based social movement and non-profit “dedicated to the betterment of humanity.” They believe that making and keeping promises is the only way to bring an to end suffering, establish peace and build a happier world. Check out their website to learn more about what it means to make a promise and the inspiring story that started it all. Or contact them to request a set of Promise Cards to start making a difference in your life, your family, and your community. One promise at a time.