He was sleeping – his dog curled up next to him, watching us as we walked by – that hollow look in his eyes canines get when they are wary of their surroundings, deprived of food, or both. A still unfinished sign, written on the back of a cardboard box read “Homeless, trying to…” and the words ended as sleep took priority after what I imagined was hours on the road or panhandling finally caught up to him. A can of tuna fish and some soup were stacked by his feet – unclear if they had served as sustenance for human or dog.
I was walking into the grocery store that Sunday night to do my usual shopping for dinner and some lunches for the week. This time I tacked on a bag of dog food, peanut butter, bread and anything else I could think of that would help the guy out. Was this few bags of groceries going to change his life? Probably not. Would the 40 bucks or so be the difference between him getting a job or overcoming the decisions he had made that got him where he was that afternoon? Probably not. Would it bring even a moderate smile to his face when he woke up and found that a stranger had seen him and wanted to help? Probably.
Small gestures can make people smile – they can brighten someone’s day, turn a shitty morning around or maybe even change the course of someone’s life. These gestures should not only be reserved for people you know – they should be something you seek out – for all your fellow humans. We all suffer and deal with the ups and downs of life. We all know what it is like to have a bad day – week, month or even year. If you can do something small to change that – even if it is just for an hour or even a minute of someone’s day, shouldn’t we all jump when life presents us with opportunities to do just that?
I placed the bags of groceries on the ground by the man at the door. The dog growled a little at this unknown intruder in his owner’s space – but his suspicion dissipated the moment he smelled the dog food and moved towards it. His owner did not wake up – he would never know who dropped the bags there – and that’s what I wanted. I gave them to him because I wanted HIS day to be better – not because I wanted to hear him say “thank you.”
I gave those bags for the same reason I donate what I can to basically any GoFundMe my friends share or any cause that they are working for – to help. I don’t want recognition for it. I edited this piece a number of times because I didn’t want people to think I was writing it so people would realize I give whenever I can – that’s not the point here.
I favor giving to people I know – to people I trust. I’ve never made a donation to any big charitable organizations or drives – not because I think they don’t help people in need, but because I know my small donation will go further when I give to those I know.
Today is what is called “Giving Tuesday.” I’m not big on days like this – we should seek to give to those in need any day or time of the year. I will however use it as an opportunity to inspire others to jump at these chances to help.
I recently had the chance to write a GoFundMe message for my friend Malachi Bennett as he prepares to represent Wyoming at Wodapalooza Fitness Festival in Miami. The second he asked me if I could write it for him, I said yes. I enjoyed the opportunity to be able to share a little of what I know about Malachi as an athlete and a person, with other people who may not know what an amazing individual he is.
When I saw a Wyoming CrossFit gym attempting to raise money so a recovering drug addict could use CrossFit as a way to heal – I gave everything I could in that moment to get them to their fundraising goal.
When I saw another gym raising money for families in their community who had fallen on hard times, I immediately worked to find out where I could donate.
When a fellow CrossFitter up in Casper called me and told me a friend of his had run out of gas 30 miles outside of where I live - I drove up there and found her car on the interstate and put 5 gallons of gas in it.
I’m not a wealthy person by any stretch of the imagination – but I am rich when it comes to my family and how I was raised. I tell these stories to spread this giving attitude - and let you all know the great things you can do with small amounts of money. My father is an Orthodox priest who never met a person in need that he wouldn’t help - and he passed that attitude down to me.
My brothers and I have all heard the story of my dad, as a young parish priest in Washington, D.C., driving around the inner-city neighborhood in his Volkswagen Bus, picking up every transient he could find on a bitterly cold night – and bringing them home to spend the night in his small apartment with his young wife. That’s the kind of thing he did then, and does now. My mom still spends hours a week volunteering at the homeless shelter, the crisis pregnancy center and teaching art classes to children.
This is the environment I was raised in – and the kind of example I want to set for my children. I figure I have two kids – so if I can imprint on them this sort of attitude towards their fellow man, I will have doubled my own impact on this planet.
So on this Giving Tuesday – I’d like to give you a couple of places involved in the CrossFit community where I think your 1,5,20 or 100 dollars would be well served and put a smile on the faces of a lot of people. Please think about how much money you will spend on “stuff” this holiday season – and then compare that with the number of smiles you could put on the faces of your fellow man.
Cloud Peak Fitness, Sheridan, WY. – raising money for families in their CrossFit community who can use a helping hand. You can message the wild/STRONG page and we will let you know how to make your donation.
Help Get Malachi to Miami – GoFundMe can be found here. Already halfway to their goal – let’s get him to the goal TODAY!
Black Dog Animal Rescue – run by a member of our CrossFit community here in Cheyenne, WY. They are also over halfway to their goal. Click here to donate