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On Shopping Carts, Thanksgiving, and Homelessness

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What has four wheels and carries a turkey?

Unless you own a turkey farm, chances are that the bird in your oven took a spin in a shopping cart. Most of us don't think twice about using a shopping cart (except when it has a squeaky wheel).

On the streets, a shopping cart is called a "buggy." When I was homeless, I avoided "pushing a buggy" as long as I could. When that day finally came - when I had to get something from point A to Point B and had no other option but to use a shopping cart - I could no longer be in denial about my situation. I was homeless. As you can imagine, accepting that reality was devastating.

thanksgivingshoppingcart.jpg


You would think that pushing a buggy on the street is as easy as it is in the grocery store parking lot. I assure you it's not. I had worked a week in a temp job and was able to pay for a SRO (single room occupancy hotel) in North Hollywood. When my money ran out they rolled me up and I had to take my stuff to my storage unit a few miles away. My first challenge was finding a cart. Then, I filled it up and started the long trek, but found going over the curbs extremely difficult. I manhandled the cart over each curb for about a half a mile and I was exhausted. It was very humiliating; people drove by laughing at me.

Right when I was about to give up I saw a mother across the street with her baby carriage and she turned the thing around to go over the curbs. Wow! Was it really that simple? Sure enough, on each street curb I turned my buggy around to backup over the curb. It worked and I was well on my way to becoming a seasoned homeless person.

That day was really a low point of my life. Maybe one of the lowest. I wish I could put into words how crushing it was to my sense of worth. Accepting that I was homeless meant that I had to also accept I may never get out of homelessness. But I was one of the lucky ones.

Thanksgiving is a time when we take a moment to be grateful. Today, I am grateful for people like you who care about the issue of homelessness. It was someone just like you that supported the organization that helped me get off the streets. It was someone just like you that clothed me and fed me until I was able to fend for myself. It was someone just like you that gave me a chance to dream again and a chance to become a normal, housed person again.

Today, there are hundreds of thousands of people on the streets, pushing a buggy, homeless, and hopeless. They need someone to give them a chance.

I don't know you, except for two things: you're sitting at a computer and you care about homelessness (there is no other possible explanation for you to be reading a blog about homeless issues than you have a heart for people). Even if you are not a religious person please take a moment today to pray in your own way for the invisible people out there who are sleeping in the streets, in their cars, or in a state of poverty that should not exist in this great country of ours.

I hope you and your family have a happy Thanksgiving! Thank you for keeping the conversation of homelessness and poverty going. Together we can affect change and make a difference in the world.