Empathy - putting yourself in “someone else’s shoes.”
It’s what inspires our compassion and humanity. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I have shared before, in this column, that my mother raised six children alone, a large part of our lives, so she struggled financially, working hard to keep us fed, clothed and housed.
We lived in a housing project during a portion of our lives and I recall thinking that it was one of the nicest homes we ever had. It wasn’t glamorous but it had four bedrooms – a luxury to me, my brother, and four sisters.
We were accustomed to living in cramped homes with two bedrooms. All five girls crowded into one bedroom while our brother slept on the living room couch, with no room of his own, for much of his life. We clothed ourselves in hand-me-downs, and even though we lived below the poverty level, Mom never asked for a hand-out. She just received a “hand-up” once in a while.
I see mothers and fathers today, in Central Indiana, who need that same “hand up” for their children. No one knows their story, their struggles, or their pain. But I do know that the child poverty rate inside the beltway of Indianapolis is 35 percent.
And I see thousands of families in need waiting in line each year to get free coats, as part of our “Bob Gregory Coats for Kids” campaign. The beauty of this 26-year-old community service program is that we don’t need to know why a family needs help. We don’t ask for proof of need when they attend “Coat Distribution Day” at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. We simply want them to know that our community is here to give them a “hand up” during their struggles.
WTHR, along with Tuchman Cleaners and the Salvation Army, our campaign partners, have given children more than 200,000 coats since the campaign began. “Coats for Kids” would not have been possible, though, without the generosity of Hoosiers who donate gently-used coats their children have outgrown, head to the store to buy new coats, or donate money so that we can buy coats for kids.
These Hoosiers unselfishly give to children they don’t even know. Their gift lights up the faces of kids who are excited to have warm coats, whether the fabric is worn and used, or shiny and new. With “Coats for Kids” you witness the power of compassion from a community that cares.
WTHR Cares, too. We ask you to join us and give a gift of warmth to our most precious gifts – our children. You can drop off a new or gently-used coat at any Tuchman Cleaners location through Oct. 15, donate a coat at the Indianapolis Colts home game against Green Bay on Oct. 7, or go to wthr.com to donate money for a new coat.
Put yourself “in the shoes” of a child in need. Give them the gift of a coat.
You can email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.