Same shirt...same jeans...different day...

So, it's Give a Shirt week. Some of you know what that means, some of you don't. Just so we're all on the same page, a little synopsis. Last December the middle and high school students @ Salem Alliance voted to get behind a cause that would address a practical need in our community - realizing there are 900+ homeless students in Salem/Keizer, and that many of these students don't attend school because they don't have the basics, including clothing they decided to "Give a Shirt" - literally! They decided to design shirts that say "Give a Shirt" and sell them for $15 - and for every shirt sold, $10 goes to providing clothing and basic needs for homeless students in the area. By partnering with the Homeless Advocate for the school system, we invite students to parties quarterly to come eat, hang out, blend in with a group of students to play games, talk, pick up items from a "store" (stocked with personal items/toiletries), they go "shopping" at our product store (each quarter has a different take home product - last time it was coats - for our event next week - NEW SHOES!) - get a medical screening (vision, dental, medical, hearing, etc.) AND... sign up for a personal shopping visit to a local retailer where we say - go for it - you have $xxx to spend - go get yourself some clothes! In the meantime we're building relationships with students. The "tagline" for the cause is "Give Hope - Restore Dignity." You can check out all the details (including a video from the first party @ www.igiveashirt.org.) This week --- everyone who wants to, in support of these students, has been challenged to wear the same shirt & jeans all week long. Many homeless students do this all the time - we're all challenged for one week. Just one week.

So, Monday - Day 1 - get dressed - clean smelling shirt, regular fitting jeans - life is good. Go to dry my hair, and my hairdryer dies. I made a choice - ya' know, I'll just wait until after this is over to get a new hairdryer. If I was on the streets I don't know that I'd get a shower. Even if I did get the chance to wash my hair, I may not have access to a dryer (except a hand dryer on the wall). So, I can do life without a hair dryer. That night, I attend (along with a bunch of our staff) a district conference for the CM&A. We do get some "looks" at the shirt (but that's normal anyway as people try to figure out just by the name what on earth it's all about). Those familiar with the cause know we're "on" for the week, and there are lots of questions about am I gonna take a shower, or comments like here's a hug now, might not be able to at the end of the week, etc. Ha! Ha! all in stride. Day 1.

Day 2- Tuesday - back to the conference. A few more looks and a few conversations about the shirt and didn't I wear that the night before. Was it just for the conference? No. Facebook messages start turning up on student's pages - lots of comments - eeeewwwwwww, that's gross. And conversations begin about WHY. Because it's not ok that homeless students are on the streets. It's not ok that students don't complete school because they don't have basic needs met. It's not ok to ridicule, look down on, take advantage of, gloss over and look around these students. It's not ok that people created by God (and guess what, that's all of us anyway) in a position to not have people talk to, honor, bless, encourage and care for them. God calls us to care for others, especially those who have needs and hurts. And to do it, no strings attached.

Day 3- Wednesday - hmmm... am i starting to smell?? A little more deodorant please. And I find students starting to talk about how hard this is, how many have stopped because it's hard. I spend a bit of the day encouraging others... and yeah, it's not easy. I'm tempted to wash my shirt & jeans. I lay down and am like - wow, thanks God for this bed. For my pillow. For my house. For my family. For my couch. For my van. For my closet. For my washing machine...

Day 4- Thursday... for my shower, for my toothbrush, for my toothpaste, for a towel... and all day I have been stunned at how much more aware I am of the "things" I have access to, and how ungrateful I typically am each day for them. Today, I've equated this experience to a fast. I'm sitting here wearing the same shirt & jeans I've worn all week. My shirt (yeah this'll sound gross) is a little stinky, has flakes my from dry skin that I try to shake and wipe and clear off, a few small marks you probably can't even see from a splatter of a drink, or a drip of toothpaste, or food that dropped in my lap that I quickly cleaned up, and yeah, there's probably a bit of sweat in there too, in spite of my dear friend Lady's Speed Stick.

Tomorrow is a new day. We have an event tomorrow night, but I'll tell you about that maybe tomorrow or Saturday. For now... what are you thankful for? Would you go for a week wearing the same outfit every day so that you can tell other people that there are some out there who wear the same outfit every day for...weeks, months...and how much God longs for us to care for them?? Would you check out that website and buying a shirt to help us clothe these students (igiveashirt.org)? Would you share about "Give a Shirt" on your blog or on twitter (follow @igiveashirt)? Would you pray that God would continue to break my heart (and yours) to care for the needs of those around us?? No, not just for the needs, but for the people with needs... What do you think?



©2009 Until... | by TNB