Gold Rush

Posted: June 10, 2007 in Acceptance, Compassion, Homelessness, Money

Summer is right around the corner and graduation ceremonies are taking place.

Local high school seniors are feeling that much more grown up and Cal Poly University students are hoping that whatever degree they’ve earned will land them a career that will pay enough to help them chase the American Dream.

Although I didn’t know it until just recently, it’s also the time that die-hard "dumpster divers" have been looking forward to with great relish. The reason is that there is "gold in them dar dumpsters."  

Well, perhaps not gold, but around the university campus and the various apartment complexes that house Cal Poly students the dumpsters will be filled with such discard items as clothing, electronic devices of all types – including laptop computer – and a variety of other things.

Graduating Cal Poly seniors are tossing out belongings that they’ve accumulated over the last four years in order to lighten the load for the trip home. And, they’re tossing them out just as easily as if they were last week’s leftovers.

Local area dumpster divers know this and will spend the entire night rummaging through those dumpsters in hopes of gleaning something of value that they can sell and put a few bucks in their pockets.

I’m sure that there are some who will think that dumpster diving should be outlawed – and in some communities throughout the country they’ve tried. But the reality is this: it’s better to have the homeless digging in dumpsters to find whatever they can find than have them committing serious crimes in order to make money.

Those who are environmentalists should really be pleased – since American’s homeless are at the top of the list of our nation’s recyclers. The overall amount of aluminum, plastic and glass bottles, cardboard and other assorted items that homeless people collect and recycle is staggering.

Actually, if it weren’t for the homeless recycling, our city streets would be literally "rolling in garbage." This is our own fault. Being the most prosperous nation in the world – even those in our nation who are at or below poverty level – we’ve developed an attitude that everything is "disposable."

One thought just occurred to me – what if, instead of throwing out all of the things we’ve grown tired of having, we decided to store them for one year. At the end of the year, the entire city would get together and have a city wide garage sale for one weekend.

We could then invite the surrounding communities to our garage sale, and then we would take all of the monies "earned" from the garage sale and donate them to the local agencies that provide services to the homeless. We could make it an annual event.

Just imagine how much good all the garbage that we throw out would do.

It probably wouldn’t cure all the ills of the homeless, but it would show the homeless that they do indeed have community support: that the community truly does want to help the homeless out of their homelessness.

I’m willing to bet that it would motivate more of the homeless to try and help themselves.

But then, what do I know? I’m just one of this communities homeless, right?

  1. WOW!!!!
    I am blown away by what you have done and continue to do to raise the level of awarnes regarding members of our community without shelter.
    Keep up the fantastic work Michael.

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