Today I posted on Facebook that I had a bit of an existential crisis this morning. Or at least in part. It’d been building up for a while now. Those who know me or who’ve followed me on social media for a couple of years know the issue of youth homelessness—especially LGBTQ youth—is near and dear to my heart. It’s why I asked my publisher, Less Than Three Press, to help me organize the Project Fierce anthology, which was a collection of stories about homeless LGBTQ youth meant to raise money for the charity, Project Fierce Chicago.
I regularly donate to Project Fierce and another Chicago-area homeless charity, The Night Ministry. They’re LGBTQ friendly and in addition to their other shelters, they even have a dedicated overnight shelter for LGBTQ youth called The Crib. I was looking at their website the other day, searching for volunteer opportunities or what their clients might need most. I wanted to do something that felt more immediate and tangible than donating cash. I printed out some of their paperwork to look it over.
Then today I started thinking about them again. I looked at the paperwork, and for a moment I felt so overwhelmed. Like, what can I do? I might be able to donate a few things, but these people need real help. In the shower I got sad. I felt useless and just…small. Inconsequential. But then I bucked up and told myself, “It doesn’t matter. Do something. You’ll feel better.”
So I went to the store and spent a couple of hundred dollars on their wish list items. I came home and put together a dozen hygiene kits containing shampoo, conditioner, soap, a wash cloth, and other toiletries. I bought some diapers, wipes, socks, and six big bags of trail mix so I could separate them into a couple dozen 1-cup bags as they requested.
I’ll be driving to The Night Ministry’s admin office to drop all this off tomorrow morning. I know some of you might be thinking, “If you wanted to donate to The Night Ministry, why didn’t you just do it quietly? Get over yourself.” And if you’re thinking it, there’s not much I can say to make you think differently, but for the record, I’m not sharing this to brag about how special and generous I am. No. I’m sharing this in the hope that someone else out there might see it be inspired to do the same. Because I realized something this morning: small things matter. Sure, I might wish I had a few million to spare so I could build some shelters and keep them stocked with essentials at all times. But just because you can’t do something huge doesn’t mean what you can contribute doesn’t have value. Sometimes the tiniest act of kindness can have a tremendous impact.
So if you have a local shelter you regularly contribute to, and you’re able, consider dropping off a box of the supplies they need most. I know how it feels to be bogged down by thoughts of “I can only afford to give so much. Will it even make a difference?” Yes, it will. To the person who has supplies to shower tomorrow because of your donation, it matters. To the person whose stomach is growling, that trail mix might not ease it much, but it helps. It’s something.
We can’t all do big things. We don’t all have the means. But small acts matter. It was a lesson I needed to learn.
Happy Thanksgiving to my friends in the U.S.! I hope the holiday treats you well, and that if you want to be with your friends or family to celebrate, you’re able to do so. ♥
This time of year, being that I’m from Chicago, I think a lot about the homeless and the weather conditions they’ll be subjected to as winter rolls in full force. I know a lot of the homeless out there are GLBTQ youth.
Last year, I pitched an idea to one of my publishers, Less Than Three Press, about releasing a charity anthology to collect money for Project Fierce Chicago, which aims to reduce GLBTQ homelessness in the city by providing free transitional housing and support services to GLBTQ young adults. That anthology came out in July of this year. So far, in addition to donating the royalties I’d earned from Amazon for “Wanting” before Amazon reduced the price to zero, we’ve managed to donate to Project Fierce a couple of times from the royalties being collected from this anthology.
If you’d like to help us support Project Fierce, please consider purchasing the anthology from one of the sources below. The book is over 165,000 words long and includes 20 stories, including one co-written by myself and Xara X. Xanakas, for less than $6. That is a steal, and you’ll be helping a really good cause! Neither LT3 Press nor any of the authors involved will be receiving royalties from this project–it’s all going to Project Fierce.
And if you’d rather just donate to PF directly, you can do so at their website.
Thanks so much, everyone. Have a great holiday!