I live in an area that is so liberal I often feel like I’m in a work of scifi. It consistently seems to me that the ideas espoused are more important than their practical application. Today was the absolute last straw. I can’t just fume about this for a week until I’m over it because I’m not going to get over it.
Today was the second time in three days that I came across the same mother with a sign asking for money for food, with her young school-aged child sitting on a blanket beside her. I would have expected a traffic jam with people offering her money, food, or assistance. Instead, not one person stopped on their trip into Safeway, Panera, Chipotle, Starbucks, Mama Lucia, Cheeburger, or points in between. Today, in fact, the woman and her son were within viewing distance of Starbucks – a jammed, packed Starbucks – while people contentedly sipped their lattes.
I am hardly a liberal, but this was just too much. The area where I live goes out of its way to proclaim itself a sanctuary. How can you call yourself a sanctuary and not incur some personal responsibility for the children this designation will surely involve? Say what you want about the adults involved. That child had no say. And that child now has an indelible memory of people literally driving by as he sat hungry on a blanket in an area filled with food in various forms.
On Friday, I was in a lane of traffic and stopped long enough to give the mom money and assure the little boy that this would all work out. Today, I parked my car and my son and I walked over to speak to them. The little boy’s face lit up when he saw me. Turns out his mother speaks no English. The child gets free breakfast and lunch on school days, but nothing on weekends. I explained to him, and then to her through Google translate in Romanian, that there was a place she could go for help. I also told him to tell his teacher he had no food on the weekend because many schools give backpacks with food to kids in his situation.
If they lived locally, I would have contacted the school myself. I didn’t think to ask the name of his school, as it is in a different city with a larger area of poverty. I also didn’t want her son to be taken into foster care – something I was concerned about if I could not explain the situation directly to the authorities involved. Mostly I spoke to the little boy, gave her money for groceries, and explained that they needed to go to the specific place I provided through Google translate, for help.
That was hours ago and I’m still upset. Every single person on a donut run or coffee run – their cars loaded with children – or simply people in luxury cars – did not offer as little as a dollar to get this kid off the blanket and into a warm place. No one stopped to ask the woman if she knew where to go for help – which she did not.
Rescue animals. No problem. You can’t even buy a puppy here. But help an actual living, breathing, child sitting right in front of you? No way.
Shame on you! How can you turn your back on a child in obvious need and distress?