The young girl was homeless and she asked our clothing volunteer John, if he had any winter boots. John looked through the stack of donations at our homeless campout and found just the pair for her. The little girl cried with gratitude.
That's how the evening went at our fourth annual campout for the homeless. It's estimated we received more than l,000 pounds of canned goods, coats, blankets, jackets and sleeping bags on that cold chilly nostalgic November 22nd evening, where St. Pius Church opened its doors in kindness to provide a location for our event.
This was a connect event: Members from our community gathered to make donations of needed items, and the homeless showed up where they could immediately obtain needed items for the cold winter days ahead. A meal for everyone was provided by members of the Altar Church and many other generous people.
"I have never seen anyone become poor by giving." - Anne Frank
Thanks so much to the Coeur d'Alene Press, the Nickel's Worth, and Commercial Printing for generously providing publicity for this event.
We also had a campfire, where community members and the homeless joined in lively conversation into the late evening. We heard the story from Ryan, who was homeless for eight years, until someone from a church believed in him, and he is now employed. Someone from Real Life brought 50 pounds of dog food, as sometimes the best friend that a homeless person has is his dog.
Dan Subulsky, from Moyie Springs, drove two hours each way and camped out with me, and brought bags of needed blankets, jackets and sleeping bags.
There were three of us who actually braved 20 degree weather and camped out; one was my friend Mike, whose dog was so cold he kept us awake moving around in the tent. My dog, River, did OK.
Truckloads of donations were distributed to the needy and to Fresh Start where they provide shelter, a shower and food. Fresh Start survives on private donations.
My inspiration for starting this event came from my son Shane, who as a student at the University of Montana, did a similar homeless event in Missoula. I was personally inspired by the movie "Pay it Forward," about doing a good deed for someone and expecting nothing in return. The opening scene of that movie shows a young, arrogant reporter getting his car totaled at a crime scene, only to have a perfect stranger (an attorney) show up and hand him the keys to his new Jaguar. The attorney's daughter's life was saved by the selfless act of a tough guy at a hospital, so he paid it forward. My story is similar; I am an attorney, but I drive a 25-year-old BMW that breaks down regularly.
This event has become a life changing experience for me and many others; it helps me get out of myself.
"We can do no great things, only small things with great love." - Mother Teresa
Steve Bell is a Coeur d'Alene resident.