I distinctly remember a time when I wanted to be Julia Roberts. My only argument to that is– “Who doesn’t?” She’s beautiful, successful, and all the characters I’ve ever seen her play, always seem to know exactly what– or who– they want (well, except in “Runaway Bride”).
And, true to form, Julia also didn’t wait until all eyes were on Haiti to realize they needed help. She traveled to Port-au-Prince in 1995 to learn what UNICEF is doing over there to support the Haitians.
Roberts lends her time also to the Children’s Hospice & Palliative Care Coalition, which helps children who are dying, and provides emotional support to families who are experiencing a loss.
Julia and her niece, Emma, donate to Shane’s Inspiration, which has overseen the creation of “universally-accessible playgrounds” and lobbies against discrimination of children with disabilities.
Last but not least, Ms. Roberts is an avid supporter of an organization that is very close to my own heart, the Hole in the Wall Gang, established by the late Paul Newman. I actually remember hearing as a child that Julia attended events for Camp Boggy Creek, and I have admired her all the more ever since.
Whether you watched it already live, or you plan to catch it on YouTube later, I hope you all get the chance to see the “Hope for Haiti” telethon that aired earlier tonight. Unfortunately, I only caught the last few minutes of it, because I went out for dinner with Dad at Uno Chicago Bar & Grill, but I would like to see it on YouTube when I have more time. It is awe-inspiring to see so many people of Tinseltown coming together for the least fortunate. Today, I had a sobering encounter with reality myself. While Dad was at work, Mom and I spent the morning cleaning out my closet of items I no longer wear. I was especially eager to empty the closet of shoes, so that I could finally close the door properly. I felt overwhelmed by the excess that remained, and yet it was a great relief to be rid of several bags worth of clothes, and one bag of shoes!
Afterwards, we went out for lunch, and then began the unexpectedly arduous process of trying to find a place where they were collecting for Haiti. I was shocked that many organizations and most churches are only accepting money right now, and not food and clothing. We went around town looking for a place to drop off our carload, with no success. Finally, I got in touch with someone at the Salvation Army, and they were more than happy to free us of our burden.
After some initial confusion as to the location, we found ourselves in the men’s shelter at the Salvation Army. Immediately, I was stunned. These weren’t exactly derelict-looking men who were there. There were young and old alike, and they all had one thing in common: they each had the most genuine smile on their faces. Three of them offered to help unload our car of our donations, and they were so humble and kind. They even told us of other places that would accept our donations.
As they walked back to the shelter, I called out, “God Bless you!” They called back, “God Bless you, for your kind hearts!”
I barely made it inside the car before I broke down in tears. After all, these were men who had lost everything themselves, and they were more than happy to help us with donations that were for Haiti, not for them. I gave of my abundance, but it barely made a dent. They gave their time, and their smiles, because that is what they have to offer. And yet, I felt so unworthy.
This afternoon, I was able to have lunch with my Mom at a restaurant (Einstein Bros.), and later, I had dinner with Dad at yet another restaurant. The men in those shelters don’t even get to live with their wives or children, because they are separated by gender. And here I was, offering clothes for the people of Haiti, not because they were particularly nice or pretty, but because I knew I wouldn’t wear them again.
Even having spina bifida doesn’t seem very daunting anymore.
P.S. Please keep on giving to the people of Haiti. For a list of bonafide organizations, go to www.cnn.com/impact.