Can’t afford coffee? No matter. In Bulgaria, an old Italian tradition that sees good souls buying hot drinks for those who struggle to make ends meet has taken hold after weeks of tensions over deepening poverty.
More than 150 cafes across Bulgaria have joined a goodwill initiative modelled on the Italian “caffe sospeso” tradition, which literally means “suspended coffee”, according to a Facebook page devoted to the movement.
The tradition — born in the cafes of Italy’s southern city of Naples — sees people pay in advance for one or several coffees without drinking them.
A few days ago, Heather Armstrong posed a question on her blog:
Indulge me for a second and consider this scenario: let’s say you’re given the opportunity to donate some money to a desperate family who would use it to feed their children, but were only able to do so if you donated the same amount of money to someone you knew would use it to buy crack. Would you do it?
The responses were interesting: lots of yes answers, peppered with people who had some angry ideas that the question was really about taxes and how they shouldn’t have to support people on welfare.
I was really struck by the responses of people to her second blog post about the question; the one where she explained WHY she asked it:
But something happened during that Christmas vacation that changed a fundamental part of me, and I bet you he doesn’t even remember this. I’d forgotten about it until last week when my brother and I met for lunch, and sitting there across from him at that sushi restaurant and listening to his stories I remembered what a profound effect his influence has had on me.
It was Christmas 1990, and he and I went shopping at a local mall to find gifts for the family. It was bitterly cold outside made worse by a cutting wet breeze, winters in Memphis are like that, and as we pulled out of the parking lot at the mall we passed a man standing on the median of the road selling single stem roses for $2. He was wearily disheveled, not dressed at all for the weather, and looked like he hadn’t eaten in days. He could have been starving, but he also could have been a drug addict. I’ll never know.
We’d always been taught that you ignore these people, they’ll take your money and use it to buy booze, or they’re somehow scamming you. Better to keep your money and do something more productive with it. Except Ranger pulled right up to the man, handed him a twenty dollar bill and said, “I’d like a rose for my sister,” and he pointed toward the passenger seat. “I haven’t seen her in months.”
The man looked down at the bill as if he were holding a fragile newborn animal, and his hands started to shake.
“Aw man,” he said. “I ain’t got no change for this. You got something smaller?”
“No,” said Ranger, and then as he shifted the car into drive he continued, “Please keep it.”
The window was still down as the car pulled away, and I’ll never forget how he called after us, “YOU’LL NEVER KNOW, MAN! YOU’LL NEVER KNOW!”
As we pulled up to a stop light in silence Ranger finally spoke up. “I saw him when we first drove into the parking lot hours ago. No telling how long he’s been out there, and he doesn’t have change for a twenty? LET HIM HAVE MY TWENTY.”
The answers to THIS post are striking: — lots of people saying that they’d rather give money to the homeless than to Lehman Brothers executives.
I’m going to write an article about this for IndyScribe, but I thought I’d do a short blog post about it here, first. Yesterday, Stephanie and I and our friends Jen and Lori were on a scavenger hunt team to benefit ICAAN, a local organization that trains helper dogs and at the same time helps troubled youth by having them train dogs.
Among the wacky things we did for charity — Stephanie and I both ate dog biscuits to get 250 points. They were pretty yummy, actually; they came from the Three Dog Bakery.
Here’s a photo of our team… #9: Acting out the “Sharks Vs. Jets” dance scene from West Side Story in front of a local theatre. (200 points)
See all of our pictures from the event in this Flickr photoset.
Our team, “The Escalator Accident” finished pretty respectably out of the 39 teams — in the top ten.
I mentioned back in April of 2004 that my mom has made hats for premies babies and hats for soldiers.
Lately, though she volunteered with the Quiltmakers shop in Fishers that coordinated a large-scale event last Saturday where quilters sewed quilts for Katrina victims using materials donated by fabric companies. They made 51 quilts. That’s awesome.
One of the things my mom has been doing lately is knitting hats for the Ships Project, which distributes hand knitted hats and socks to soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world. I didn’t realize how cold it is in some of the places the soldiers are stationed, even in the Middle East. The pictures of all the troops modeling their hats are really cute.
She’s also been knitting tiny little hats for the Stitches From the Heart program, which gives the hats to newborns and premies in hospitals all over the country. Before that, she was making american flag quilts that got sent to each of the family members of the 9/11 victims.
I don’t say enought that I think my mom’s a really wonderful person.
If you want to participate in the Ships Project, visit their website for more information on how to join the program.