Lee Ann Monfredini

The Holidays + The Homeless

I was standing in line at a Walgreen’s in Santa Rosa and the women a few spots ahead of me had a cart filled to the brim with toys and cozy, warm socks – lots and lots of toys and lots and lots of cozy warm socks. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ve already guessed I couldn’t help but ask this women about her purchases and if the gifts were all for her family.

Her response humbled me.

“I’m from Trinity County,” she said, “and my husband and I are committed to supporting a soup kitchen that feeds many homeless families in our community. I came to Santa Rosa to have Thanksgiving with my mother and stopped in to pick up her prescription. I was amazed by the incredible sales, so I bought the socks and toys for the people at the soup kitchen.”

The couple behind me had the same reaction I did; which was the same reaction as the person ahead of me and the checkout clerk. We all commented on her generosity.

Our comments caught the attention of the store manager who was walking towards the checkout station and had heard snippets of our conversation. She stopped, turned around and asked the woman about her purchases. Hearing of her donation and commitment, the manager didn’t miss a beat and offered this angel of mercy an additional twenty-percent discount to help support her cause.

This is not an advertisement for Walgreen’s, but I’ve included their name because I was impressed that the store fosters the freedom for managers to issue discounts for worthy causes without having to check it in a manual or get permission from the corporate office.

I will repeat this story often to my friends, co-workers and family members this season and for many seasons to come. We all talk a lot about helping those less fortunate in our communities and many of us donate to charities that help homeless families.

But meeting this woman randomly last weekend was a wake up call for me. Writing checks is easy. Being with men and women during the most challenging times of their lives, when they’re really struggling not just to feed their families and keep their children warm, but to keep their families together, calls for a special kind of person with a selfless soul.

Each homeless person we encounter on the street has their own story, their own history, and it’s unlikely that any of them ever anticipated their current fate. No one plans on being homeless. Homelessness is not in their business plan, nor is it part of their dreams for the future.

The holiday season often takes our thoughts away from shelters and soup kitchens. We’re busy decorating our homes and buying presents for loved ones. We go to cocktail parties and dinners and clink champagne glasses. We rush from one event to another, dressed in warm coats, bright scarves and pull out our gloves when the temperature drops.

This season, I’ll be starting a new tradition; one I learned from a lovely woman I met in a drug store. I’ll look for sales on warm socks and knit caps, fill brown paper bags with non-perishable foods and quietly donate them to a shelter in San Francisco. I invite you to join me.

These are the most needed items at food banks:

  • Peanut Butter
  • Granola Bars
  • Cereal
  • Beans
  • Rice
  • Canned Tuna
  • Canned Soups
  • Canned Stews

These are the most needed items at homeless shelters:

  • Socks
  • Knit Caps
  • Children’s Pajamas
  • Plastic Bandages
  • Deodorant
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Nail Clippers
  • Baby Wipes
  • Tooth Brushes
  • Tooth Paste
  • Dental Floss
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Cortisone Cream

I may never again see the women who inspired me last weekend. My hope is that telling of her generosity will nudge us all to remember those that need our help. You’ll find a number of worthy organizations in the Resources section of our site.

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.”Mother Theresa

About author View all posts

Lee Ann Monfredini

Lee Ann Monfredini

A graduate of the University of San Francisco with a degree in Management, Lee Ann Monfredini has not only served on the boards and executive teams of some of the most respected health and social organizations in the Bay Area, but also become a one of the most respected agents in the real estate market. With more than $100 million of successful home sales under her belt, she’s living proof that personal expertise and insightful perspective can provide any client with a competitive advantage.

5 CommentsLeave a comment

  • The Million Mask March started off as a single protest in Washington D.C. in 2013. It has since grown into what has been dubbed the largest mass protest in human history with over 500 simultaneous protests around the world. Also with countless national and world wide street actions on a weekly and monthly basis including such things as clothing drives, street protests, feeding the homeless and in some cases traveling to help those in times of need.

  • Another easy way to help those in need is to keep an empty grocery bag in your car, then buy an extra item or two whenever you go the grocery store and drop it in the bag. Once it’s full, drop it off at the local food shelf. Fun!

  • Great piece of writing and an important call to action. Another idea: there are bargains to be had at many of the consignment shops around town. $50 or $250 goes a long way and you can pick up sweaters, jackets, jeans, scarves, etc. and donate them to an organization of your choice. So many easy ways to help and make a BIG difference in the lives of those who have so little. Thanks for reminding us, Lee!

    • Great idea, Christine. We like it so much, we’ve found a video on how to make homeless kits by shopping thrift stores and will post it on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/360womensfo) Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *