America’s needy

Letter | Chance Myrtle Beach encounter prompts charitable change of heart

December 21, 2013 

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On a recent cold, wintry day, my son and I drove to Myrtle Beach from the North Myrtle Beach area. I wanted to find some gourmet chocolates at one of the stores where I usually purchased them once a year near Christmas. We stopped at the store and shopped for a while; found a few items, but not the chocolate.

As we left the store, I opened the popcorn and found it to be not fresh. I sent my son back in to return it and picked him up at the entrance and headed to an exit. There I noted a young man carrying a sign that read, “Homeless, not Helpless.”

Something about him stopped me, and I pulled to the side of the exit as a large SUV impatiently rushed by me. The young man was slight, handsome in an innocent sort of way, and gentle in manner. As a retired nurse who has dealt with many people under the influence, he did not appear to be under any influence. He was meek, but determined to survive. His whole demeanor and the fact that he was so young touched me in an overwhelming way.

Before I could even hand him some money, he said “I'm sorry to have to do this, but the shelter is full.” I told him not to worry and handed him $10, I didn't have a $5. I thought later how glad I was that I did not. He continued to thank me for the money, and he said “My name is Jonathan.”

I told him we would pray for him, and he said, almost pleading, “please do.” As I drove out of the parking lot, my heart and my eyes filled with tears for this young man. He touched me in a way that nothing had in a long time. I had felt deeply for the homeless people, mostly older, who I have seen in the area. My son and I have helped them on occasion with a few dollars, but this young man was different in his demeanor and his determination to survive.

From living close to a larger city before retirement, I am not naive to the people who panhandle as a way to make a living, and as someone who has worked closely with people at their most downtrodden, I know the difference. I also know that “there but for the grace of God go I.”

As we drove through the parking lot, my thoughts were “Heaven help us America.” What is happening to us as a nation and as human beings when we can neglect this young man and many other homeless people and send billions of dollars to people who hate us and will hate us long after the billons are spent.

Please Americans make your voices heard today, tomorrow, and for however long it takes to help our fellow Americans, the feeble, the old and downtrodden, the young, the people like Jonathan who are our future. It is almost impossible to comprehend any of our congressmen riding down the Carolina roads through small towns and towns like this all over the country and not realize and feel something for what we and they are doing to our own people.

I'm not a politician nor do I promote any party. I am just an American, who like many Americans is saddened for what is happening to her country and its people.

Think what we as Americans can do when we make our voices heard, when we volunteer our time, one hour, one day, whatever we can, our money (to projects that go directly to address the problem). My son and I have struggled since I retired, as we all do, but I know that if I help in some way, it can make a difference. When we work together to repair the people, the communities, the towns, the cities, it can make a difference. Demand that our leaders make the same effort.

When I arrived home, something made me wonder what the name Jonathan meant. I looked it up and found it means “Gift of God.” This day was somewhat sad, yet truly a gift, and a very blessed one.

The writer lives in North Myrtle Beach

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