Baby, it’s cold outside.

Well hello January! I am sitting in my studio looking at single digit temperatures on the thermometer, thanking my lucky stars that I don’t have to leave my house today. There are many people who aren’t as fortunate. Last month I read Blue Balliett’s YA novel, Hold Fast, the story of a girl who falls into Chicago’s shelter system, and from there must solve the mystery of her father’s strange disappearance (from Amazon). I was on the edge of my seat and totally engrossed in this family’s story.

Not only did Balliett do a fantastic job at constructing a wonderful mystery with fun wordplay and magical details of the Chicago Public Library, she helped shed light on stories that we often overlook. Many people who find themselves in shelters are there because of circumstances unforeseen. It could be anything, from an illness that renders one incapacitated and unable to continue work—to persons who are laid off with not enough income to live on their own and no friends or family to turn to.

With an unemployment benefit extension up for debate this morning, I wonder how many more Americans will be looking for shelter in 2014. That being said, those of us who do have homes, food, and clothes are in a fortunate position to be able to help. Every new year we make lists of self improvements, we clean out our closets to make way for new energy, new ideas, and new stuff to fill our lives. We donate to Goodwill, The American Kidney Fund, the Food Bank and other organizations put in place to help our fellow-man. Most of us—as good intentioned as we are—never think of taking our gently used clothes, coats, and canned goods to our local shelters. So, this year, wash up those old clothes, pack up those discarded toys and electronics, box up a few of those books you can spare, buy extra toiletries when you are grocery shopping, and donate them to your neighborhood shelter. Happy New Year~


Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

-Langston Hughes