Today the high temperature was about 23 degrees and windy in the city. I met a homeless man in the subway who was very mentally disturbed, asking for money in a babyish voice like a child asking his mommy for a toy. I gave him two dollars and my old winter hat.
There was a team of a 40-something man and a preteen boy on the L Train panhandling in Santa Claus hats. I would assume it was a father and son team, as the older man was patting the boy on the head as they walked through the train. The man played Christmas tunes on a harmonica as his boy walked before him collecting dollars in a styrofoam cup. I think he was playing "Let it Snow:" whatever it was, I tried to tune it out. Christmas music becomes far more heartbreaking when it's played by the begging.
It disturbed me to see the boy. I remembered Ecuador, and how I felt so lucky that our country did not have that level of child poverty on the streets (as far as I had seen.) I had never seen 5 and 6 year olds out peddling for money, and I never want to see it in my country.
I still haven't gone to BRC Outreach to get trained as a volunteer, but as these cold nights go on and I see these people, I feel it's only natural and humane that I take the next step: my heart is breaking for these people already. I might as well give my time.