As winter sets in across the United States, we have been seeing some record-setting temperatures. In the month of January, the city of Chicago reported temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit. This was just one of many Polar Vortex storms to hit the US in recent years.
Cold like this effects everyone from homeowners with pipes that freeze, to businesses that can’t open due to equipment malfunctioning and deliveries being put on hold. When we think of all the inconveniences that come with storms like this, it is easy to get caught up in worrying about ourselves, and we quickly forget about the world outside our immediate space.
The unfortunate reality is that when temperatures like this hit the United States, there are an estimated 500,000 people living on the streets. Most will turn a blind eye and see the problem as too large to fix. There are some, however, who refuse to accept the notion that “just because we can’t solve the big problem, doesn’t mean we can’t help on a smaller level”.
These people are the unsung heroes, and they walk amongst us every day. We rarely hear of the impact that small acts of kindness can have. Kindness does not get ratings on the local and national news, but just because it is rarely reported on, does not mean it isn’t happening.
An angel who refused to stand by and do nothing
Chicago resident, Candace Payne, made an impulsive decision to charge 20 hotel rooms to her credit card, to help save a small population of Chicago’s homeless from the possibly deadly temperatures. Soon enough, word of her good deed spread on social media, and donations from other individuals started to pour in. In total, the donations were able to rent 60 rooms at a local southside hotel, but the kindness did not stop there. Volunteers showed up to help the people get situated, and even turn the bathroom areas into places they could cook and use as a kitchen.
In total, the good deed started by Payne was able to reach and help 80 people. There were deaths reported as a result of the temperatures in Chicago, but by thinking small and taking action, at least these 80 people did not become another statistic.
Why we need to acknowledge the unsung heroes
The news is plastered with disaster and destruction. It is so easy to get “can’t look away syndrome”. This is the condition where people sit in front of their television and can’t take their eyes off the screen as the news stream covers all that is wrong within the world.
This type of constant negative news has a large impact on our society. We tend to think that just because we are consuming so much negative news, that the world is truly a terrible place. Stories like Candace Payne’s are not isolated to Chicago, or to one-time incidents. If we get outside the bubble of our social media news feeds, and what we see on the TV, we can find the unsung heroes spreading kindness every day.
We need these unsung heroes to show us that no act of kindness is too small. We need them so we can see that if we take action, and do what is within our means to do, we can help others and make a large impact.
The point is that we don’t need to solve homelessness or cure world hunger. What we need to do, is be able to recognize opportunities where we may have something to offer to others in need. If we have the ability to give our time and effort to help someone who is struggling, we can start to make real change in the world.