My husband came into the bedroom last night and said, "It's freezing in here. I'm bringing in the space heater."
Easy for him to say.
As I watched him drag in the appliance and plug it in, I thought, "How unfair that it's easy for most of us to stay warm, while too many families and children are really freezing... and there's nothing they can do about it alone." These families really need our compassion and help now. My head began to fill with the lists of children on our Pajama Program wait list. The names of the places where we send pajamas began swirling in my mind, and I sat up to think about them and the children there.
Do they have enough blankets? Is there heat where they are sleeping? Do they have hot water for a bath? If there's nothing we can do to warm up Mother Nature, what's a child to do? Are they the lucky ones who received some of our pajamas and books... or are they still waiting?
These are unusually harsh days and nights all over the country. The snow and single-digit temps are scaring us all. Not only are we feeling the temperatures below zero on our bodies, but the frigidity is affecting so much of our daily lives -- electricity, water, car engines, walking pathways, driving streets, pets -- and was the weather responsible for my train being stalled last night for 90 minutes due to signal failure on the lines?
When we are hit with snowstorms or worse, many of us have friends we can turn to, places to stay for a while. So many families don't have this support, these types of friends. They're all in the same boat. Their children are huddled together.
It's up to us to help, and it's so heartwarming to know so many people are. As I walked to our reading center this morning, so thankful that I finally got off last night's train safe and sound, I noticed an unusually large number of people reaching into their pockets to give homeless people on the street dollars -- not just singles but $5s and $10s. So many homeless don't want to go to shelters -- they say they're not safe -- so another blanket or more newspapers to lie on make a bed they prefer. I suspect there will be more stories soon of passersby who made a real difference for a homeless person in this cold.
I am sure there are children hiding, with and without adults, in the cold all over New York City and beyond. We may not see them, but they are out there. It breaks my heart that they may not be counted among those who are asking for help, that their children are left off our "needs pajamas" lists because we don't see them, no one sees them. We can't fold a $10 into their hand. They deserve our empathy and support. Be a friend.