It was the week I first had the idea to make what I was calling "pay it forward bags." Kelly and I had put together 8 and our goal was to give them out over the next month. The first evening we put the bags in the car we stopped at a gas station to get some gas and a soda. Lying on the side of the building was a man quietly sipping from a small carton of milk and eating ramen noodles. He was obviously exhausted and could barely hold himself up.
Kelly and I looked at each other and I think we were both nervous- even though I had once myself been homeless, I found myself at a loss for words. We grabbed a bag and walked over to him. We greeted him and not knowing what else to say, I commented that it looked like he'd had a tough day. He solemnly nodded his head. You could tell he wasn't used to anyone speaking to him. We placed the bag on the ground next to him and let him know that we hoped it would make his day a little easier. He nodded his head and quietly mouthed the words thank you. We smiled and walked away feeling humbled and a little sad about our inability to do more than that one small act.
When we first started buying items for the bags we were really unsure of what all to buy- believe me when I say it has been quite the evolutionary process. One item in particular we were unsure of was shoe laces. It seemed like a good idea though- multi-faceted, utilitarian- so we said "why not?" and threw them in our shopping cart.
As we walked back to the car with a multitude of emotions rushing over us something hit me. I asked Kelly if she saw his shoes. She said she hadn't. With tears in my eyes I climbed in the car and smiled: his boots had no shoelaces.
That was the moment we knew we were doing something right. The universe's way of telling us that we were on the right path so to speak. From that day forward we decided that every bag would include shoe laces and it has come to take on such a greater meaning to us. Everyday we each put on our shoes before stepping out into the world and we hope everyday people will aim to lace up with love.