Giving Spirit

Volunteering for The Giving Spirit

When you’re going through the worst experience of your life, the last thing you want to hear is that there are others who have it worse. You want to believe that no one has felt pain like you’re feeling right this minute. This, you imagine, is what the end of the world feels like.

In recent months I have certainly been guilty of wallowing, and my friends have kindly indulged me as I cycle through all the unflattering stages of grief. But in one conversation a friend of mine said it was frustrating seeing me so sad, all the time, because it wasn’t who I was and suggested volunteering to help those who had it worse than I did. I’d like to say I gave it some serious thought, but I was too busy bawling.

My friend and fellow freelance writer Nicole Pajer runs a volunteer group called GiV La, where you can volunteer, mix and mingle at events she finds around Los Angeles. I don’t know how she does it, but Nicole seems to find a worthy cause every time I need a reason to get out of my cluttered head space.

Last Saturday, through GiV La, a friend and I joined The Giving Spirit in assembling 1750 backpacks for homeless people around Los Angeles. The backpacks had water, Gatorade, baby wipes, dry foods, sunscreen, socks, t-shirts, a sponge and anything else you could use when you literally have nothing. What we did was walk an assembly line for four hours, filling bags that then were distributed that day by other volunteers.

While actually handing the bags out may have been a life changing experience, I’ll admit I wasn’t quite ready for that. I was just happy to for a few hours be helping in some way. At the event, I learned that one of the primary causes of homelessness is domestic abuse. Women leave their husbands and quickly fall behind financially because they are unable to support themselves and their children. Without a network of support you can quickly find yourself on the street.

I realized how lucky I was. That whatever had come my way I was able to support myself financially. I had all the tools to stand on my own two feet. I had friends who would pick me up when I couldn’t muster the courage or energy to move forward, or even get out of bed. I had friends to remind me that I was going to be alright.

Apart from having to process the saddest experience of my adult life, there truly was nothing I didn’t have. I wish everyone was as lucky.

To learn more about The Giving Spirit and help them out, visit their website at

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