Daytona Beach, Florida
My bag holding the Quilt, puppet and other goodies sat in the waiting room this afternoon. I had passed my background check and it was 3:30. I was set up to do a program with the children staying at the Family Shelter.
A Facility Offering Help to the Homeless
I've taken the quilt with me to volunteer in schools, camps, nursing homes and shelters in past travels, but this was going to be different.
There were dozens of eyes watching me as I carried my bag up the steps to the office, where so many of the homeless in Daytona are offered assistance. It was my second visit to the office and I was ready to be escorted back to the Family Shelter and bring some fun to the kids after they returned from school.
After quite a wait, I met up with my escort and followed her through a number of locked doors to the shelter. That's when we were told the shelter was on lock-down and I couldn't work with the kids.
My imagination went wild for a split second, before I learned it was a contagious illness that was forcing all the families to stay out of the common areas. I lugged my bag back to the office where I texted Don, (husband on errands) and told him to come get me.
"The Magic Quilt"
I waited for Don. I felt disappointed my plans had fallen through and I couldn't even see the kids. Then I felt ashamed to be holding this bag with my colorful quilt, just spilling over the top. Kids call it Magic Quilt because of the stories about it flying. I so wish it had been magic. I would have asked it to multiply itself so I could give one to every person who came in the door, or stood out on the street.
Some came inside to see if they had mail. (The facility office can be an address for those living on the street) But most were coming to ask for blankets. I chatted with a few while they waited for help. "I sleep in a bush." One man almost chuckled. He was in decent spirits because he was picking up his VA check. Another woman said it was her first time "sleeping on the cement". They offered her sleeping bags but she wasn't sure her disabled husband could get into a sleeping bag. They only had space in the shelter for those with kids. And temperatures were expected to be in the low '40's.
What Did I Learn? I always learn something when I volunteer. I didn't get a chance to pull the quilt out of the bag, but I did learn. I learned that there are a lot more homeless out there than I ever realized. Especially in places that are expected to be warm in the winter. I had nothing with me to offer these people... unless I wanted to have them all share one quilt. But I have two more days in town to think about what I could do to help. If I win the Powerball, everybody is getting a brand new blanket for starts!
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.