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High fives or handcuffs

Published January 11. 2014 09:00AM

The brutal temperatures this past week have really made me thankful for having a home and oil to heat it.

My dog isn't too fond of these temperatures either. Normally he wants to run around in the back yard sniffing and digging around in his domain.

Not this week. This week, he's all business.

I feel bad for all of the stray or neglected animals that must struggle to survive outdoors in the killer temperatures.

And what of the homeless? How do they cope?

When I think of the homeless, I associate their existence with city life.

Places like New York City, Philadelphia or perhaps even Allentown that is where the homeless are, right?

Who am I kidding.

Homelessness is everywhere, even in our little Carbon and Schuylkill county towns.

I remember seeing a man living out of a tent set back off the road about a year ago.

I have heard of people (including families) living out of a car.

It's heartbreaking.

The other day I had a brief conversation with a couple of modern-day Robin Hoods.

Both work part-time in the food service industry.

Both make minimum wage and struggle to make ends meet themselves.

During our conversation, they shared with me that there are a couple of homeless individuals that frequent the establishment where they are employed to get warm or to use the bathroom facilities.

They confessed to me that having compassion for those individuals, they risk their jobs and therefore their own living situations by providing their homeless patrons with hot coffee and occasionally a sandwich to satisfy their hunger at the expense of and unbeknownst to the establishment.

I imagine that simply allowing the homeless individuals to linger in the building could get them into hot water.

And yet, they do it anyway.

No doubt our Robin Hoods would pay for the coffee and occasional meals they dole out if they could afford to do so.

But $7.25 per hour part-time or even full-time doesn't go very far, however.

My first impression of these people was that of admiration for caring enough about another human being, (a stranger even), so much that they would risk their jobs for them.

But then, when I broke it down, I realized that they were, for all intents and purposes, stealing.

If I were the owner of an establishment, I think I would encourage my employees to have compassion for those less fortunate and help them out as much as we were able; but that doesn't mean that every business owner feels or should be expected to feel the same way (although I wish they did).

Homelessness is an ongoing problem with no easy solutions and it is right in our own backyards.

We can either choose to point fingers or we can choose to extend a helping hand.

My heart embraces the intentions of these do-gooders; but my mind wants to caution them as well.

I would hate for them to suddenly find themselves living in their own cars as a result of their actions.

What do you think?

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