By Tim Breitbarth
The holidays are a time of ritual and tradition. Each family has a fun and special way to celebrate the season. Some people take pictures of their infant dressed as a reindeer and mail it to friends and relatives. Others wake up at 3:00 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving for the adrenaline rush of battling fellow shoppers for the last Wii in the store. Still others spend Saturday afternoon stringing thousands of lights on their house and Sunday afternoon searching for the one bad bulb that prevents them from turning on.
One of my family’s holiday traditions is the annual Help the Homeless Walk on the National Mall on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. In fact, the Walk signals the start of the holiday season for me.
Every year, my wife and I wake up early, drink an entire pot of hot coffee, put on about 47 layers of clothing, and immediately need to use the bathroom. Once we finally leave the house, we ride the Metro to the Mall, where we join thousands of people for a frigid walk down the Mall and around the Tidal Basin.
The purpose of the Help the Homeless Walk is to raise public awareness of the issues surrounding homelessness and to support organizations working to prevent and end homelessness in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. I have been honored to join BFC staff and volunteers in walking to help end homelessness in our region for the past three years.
This past Saturday as we walked, I realized that the Walk is a holiday tradition for other people at Bread for the City too. Staff and board members brought their families, volunteers brought friends, and some people even brought their dogs. It is a fun and festive way to kick off the holiday season, and the money raised from the event will help many people in need.
Not only is it fun, but I think the Help the Homeless Walkathon (and Bread for the City's Holiday Helpings Campaign) captures the true spirit of the holidays. On Thursday, as we give thanks and count our blessings, we should remember the many people in our city who are not as fortunate. Giving of ourselves to help others should transcend the holiday season, but it also makes a great family tradition. Next year, I hope to see you there.
Tim Breitbarth is a guest-blogger, Bread for the City volunteer, and the patient husband of Development Associate Valentine Breitbarth. We are grateful for all of his support!
November 24, 2008
By Tim Breitbarth