The Birth of a Charity
It was one of those bitterly cold December evenings in Boston, wind whipping so relentlessly it was like a hard slap in the face with an open hand. I had just finished enjoying dinner with friends and was walking back to my car. I was wearing one of my heaviest overcoats along with a hat, scarf and gloves in an effort to combat the brutal winds which were somehow cutting through me like a razor. As I hurried along to my car I was actually growing angry at the weather, thinking this kind of cold is absurd.
It was then I spotted a man, clearly without a home, who was attempting to seek refuge in an out-cove of an office building. He was probably in his mid 50's, scruffy beard, wearing a tattered and stained overcoat along with a hat and gloves which had definitely seen better days. He was laying down sheets of cardboard to create a barrier between the icy cold concrete and his body, as that was to be his bed for the evening. I noticed some filthy blankets lying next to a black plastic garbage bag which I assumed contained his belongings. I thought to myself, how in the world is this man going to get through the evening in this weather, when was the last time he had something nourishing to eat, when was the last time he showered, brushed his teeth, put on clean clothes?
Only minutes ago the thought of walking a few blocks to my car in the brutal cold seemed like a daunting and almost unbearable task until I witnessed a person who has to live in these elements, day in and day out. I was both saddened and ashamed. Saddened at how anyone in this day and age has to live or, more accurately, survive in these conditions and I was ashamed of myself, ashamed of how much I have and what real sacrifices I have made to help those less fortunate.
It was at that time I remembered my personal backpack in my car. Because of my profession in the security industry I always carry a "go-bag" which contains things like toiletries, a change of clothes, snacks, a first-aid kit, multiple power cords, flashlights, tools etc. My bag contains over fifty items I use frequently as well as a few I have yet to call upon in over two decades, however, they are in there on the off chance I should need them. I quickly emptied my bag in the trunk of my car and picked through and replaced all the items which I felt would be helpful to this gentleman.
I drove my car back to where he was setting up camp for the night and asked if he would be interested in a backpack with some useful items, to which he replied he would. When I gave him the backpack it was as if I had handed him a winning lottery ticket. He was so grateful and appreciative, it actually took me by surprise. I was prepared for a grunt or groan of "thanks", however, you could see he was clearly moved by the gesture and was somewhat embarrassed by his situation. It was at that time I knew I had to do something more to get involved and help those with far less than I have been blessed with. I did not know it at the time, however, it was then that Payitbackpack.org was born.