“Christmas Angel”: A more compassionate view of homeless youth

This touching story comes to the Coalition from Ian, a close friend of our executive director.

Elizabeth Langhorne MacLeodWhen going through his mother’s writings, Ian found this moving description of an interaction his mother had with a youth experiencing homelessness in Vancouver during the holiday season of her 85th year:

“As I drove into the drug store parking lot I was feeling so ill that I wondered whether I would be able to climb the stairs to pick up my prescription. To my dismay, I discovered that my change purse contained 85 cents only. Now what was I to do? I needed a looney for parking. It was near closing time and there were no other cars coming into the lot. Then I noticed a girl wearing a red Christmas hat rummaging around in a pile, partially covered by plastic, in front of the next stall. I opened the car door and asked,

“Since you’re wearing that hat are you by any chance feeling in the Christmas Spirit?”

She turned, gave me a lovely, warm smile, and replied, “I am. What can I do for you?”

I told her my problem and asked if she could give me a looney for 85 cents.

“I don’t have any money,” she said, “but I’ll get you a looney upstairs,” and she dashed off.

After ten minutes or so she returned with the ticket telling me that she had had a bit of trouble finding the money. Then she pointed to the pile of plastic and announced,

“I was so lucky today. Look what I found!” I looked around but couldn’t see a thing that would make anyone feel lucky.

“Look at the mattress,” she said.

There, lying beside what I now realized was her pile of belongings, was a baby’s crib mattress.

“That is going to be so comfortable to sleep on,” she enthused.

I was dumb-founded. “Do you sleep here?” I asked. “There are three of us,” she replied.

Now I realized that my benefactor was one of Vancouver’s homeless street youths. She must have found the money for the ticket by begging on the street. I had only two small bills in my purse and one larger bill for the needed medications but I gave her the two small ones. I had no sense at all that she had expected payment.  She looked surprised but then beamed as she thanked me over and over. I have a message for this young lady.

“My Christmas wish for you, my unknown friend, is that God will never let you lose your spirit of helpfulness, nor that warm smile, and that someday you may have a warm bed in a home of your own. The kindness and generosity which you were so ready to give me, when you have so little, was a beautiful example of the true Spirit of Christmas. I will probably never see you again but I will now see your friends on the street in a new light and will be more ready to be of help to them.

A Warm and Merry Christmas Season to you, Christmas Angel.””

Elizabeth Langhorne MacLeod