While so many of us are all in, enjoying the festive spirit of the holidays, others who are less fortunate and trying to survive out in freezing cold weather might not agree that this is the most wonderful time of the year.
Fortunately, there are people who notice the sad eyes and the shivering body when they walk past a lost soul. Alan Baird is one of those who takes notice, rather than turning away from a person who deserves a helping hand. While those of us who had a warm home to retire to in the evening were dreaming of a white Christmas, others were suffering through a silent night, hungry and cold. Alan is a rare bird who inspired an entire group of people to come together and bring joy to the world by handing out gifts to help people experiencing homelessness get through the day and the night.
Last year at this time, Alan repeatedly noticed a homeless man out in the inclement weather who was no doubt cold and hungry, too. What stood out to him was that the homeless man, despite his dire circumstances, was friendly and polite, even holding the door for others who had their hands full. So he decided to fill up a backpack full of some basic necessities in an effort to make this homeless man's life just a little bit easier. Doing this felt good, and doing this felt like the right thing to do, so Alan decided to try to raise funds to hand out ten backpacks leading up to Christmas 2017.
He calls them Baird Survival Bags; included is a packet full of information including locations for shelter, food, medical help for both physical and emotional struggles, and how to get a Social Security card or other form of I.D. that a person is required to have in order to apply for jobs. Much to his surprise, the fundraising effort generated enough money to buy 100 backpacks, plus blankets and other things that will make a homeless person's life just a little bit more comfortable.
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On December 22, 2017, a group of friends, family members and co-workers came together to walk around downtown Denver and hand them out. One hundred backpacks could have been handed out rather quickly, as there was no shortage of people in need and the crisp winter air discouraged patience. But Alan is a gentle soul who is kind, caring, compassionate, and willing to spend some time talking with each person he gifted a backpack. Some people just want to talk, and Alan is willing to take the time to listen.
He hopes to build this event to be even bigger during 2018, and he talks about having enough backpacks to hand out to the people who are sleeping in shelters in towns and cities up and down the Front Range of Colorado.
So come, all ye faithful, and join Alan Baird in his effort to make the holiday season a little more cheerful for the lost souls, and wish them a Merry Christmas.
You can reach Brian Crandall on his Facebook page. Westword occasionally publishes op eds on issues of importance to the Denver community. Send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org, where you can also comment on this piece.