|Jeff Ayoub, of The Night Ministry, talks to a man sleeping on Lower Wacker Drive last Christmas.|
Ideally, you wouldn't be giving money to The Night Ministry today.
Even though today is "Giving Tuesday," a day designated by those who care about such things full time to encourage we who rarely give these life-and-death matters a second thought to pause from our lavish and blessed lives, pause between the Feast Extravaganza and the Carnival of Gifts and remember those with nearly nothing. To extend a hand to people facing problems that on their best day dwarf ours on our worst.
You wouldn't be giving today because, again ideally, you wouldn't have to. You'd already be giving throughout the year, either to The Night Ministry, and organizations like it, whether through money or, more valuably, through your time and efforts.
Though really, there are no other organizations like The Night Ministry, the last threadbare safety net between thousands of Chicagoans and the abyss of homelessness, addiction, mental illness, despair and death.
There are other things besides money. You could, for instance, prepare a few score meals to be handed out at one of the stops of the Night Ministry's health care bus during its nightly rounds, and then show up at the appointed hour and distribute them. You could help pull off their big annual fundraising dinner or hit up prominent individuals to lend a hand. I've done all that—on certain sporadic occasions, I don't want to give the impression I'm a less selfish person than I actually am—and it feels great.
But in a pinch, digging into your pocket will do. I''ve done that too, mostly recently on Monday, just to show how easily and painlessly it can be done. You go to the web site here. I timed it—four minutes flat, from start to finish. Nobody is too busy to spare four minutes. The Night Ministry gives you a receipt for your records.
Plus a certain charitable Chicago supporter has pledged $25,000 in matching donations for Giving Tuesday—meaning every dollar you give will be doubled. So dig deep.
Or not so deep. Whatever you are comfortable with giving. I'll never miss the money I gave to The Night Ministry. But the person who gets my $50, maybe in the form of a care package of life's essentials, or a visit from the bus, or an asthma inhaler, or a sandwich handed over by a wide-eyed suburban volunteer they corralled to help out, someone like my son below, will benefit enormously.