Bags ‘full of hope’
In the 60’s, Dennis was a young kid living in the “projects.” Back then, his mother struggled to care for the children on her own after his father left. “Globe Santa,” a program run by the Boston Globe newspaper, provided Christmas presents for the family. Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries helped to provide clothes. Assistance from these organizations and from other people impressed Dennis and would later influence his character.
Since 2005, Dennis has stayed in our emergency shelter on occasion. He has struggled with homelessness and drug addiction. We’ve seen him come and go, sometimes fighting valiantly to stay sober and sometimes losing that battle.
More than simply a shelter or a soup kitchen, The Salvation Army of Cambridge has become a church home for Dennis. Most Sundays, he sits in the third pew listening intently to the service. Dennis always wears a smile and offers a hug to people around him. He is honest about his struggles and when times are really hard, he requests prayer.
One Sunday, Lieutenant Michael Harper, corps officer, announced that we needed church members to help with our “Stuff–A–Bag” campaign. We provided paper bags with grocery lists taped to them and asked members of the congregation to fill the bags with the listed items. Once full, we would give the bags at Thanksgiving to families in need.
Dennis was actually the very first person to return a Stuff–A–Bag donation. Today, he is homeless and hurting, yet he uses what little he has to help other people. He reminds me of the Bible story about the widow who gave her two coins (Mark 12:41–44).
When I asked Dennis about his acts of generosity, he says, “I just want to help The Salvation Army, because they help me. The Cambridge Corps is a place where you can go when you’re weary.”
Thank you, Dennis, for reminding me what it means to give. I am grateful for you.
—Captain Armida Harper and her
husband, Lieutenant Michael Harper, are
the corps officers in Cambridge, Mass.