Hats, scarves, gloves, oh my!

A friend of mine donated 50 USD to buy winter gear for some of the refugees. What makes this truly remarkable is that we’ve never met in person–we met as a part of an online writers’ critique group!

She sent me money via PayPal (and I held back very inappropriate jokes about needing her mother’s maiden name). The next day, I went shopping!

Serbia is a relatively inexpensive country, and I stopped by a couple of second-hand places to gauge prices. After about an hour of looking for deals, I spent about half of her donation on:

  • one thick, fluffy scarf
  • three hats
  • three pairs of heavy-duty gloves
  • Three pairs of socks

I proudly took a photo, and two days ago I wore the hat and gloves down to the abandoned warehouse where they “live” and we distribute lunch every day.

20161221_153014.jpgThe hat was smaller than I originally thought, so I had to find a kid to give it to.

Right outside the Center I saw a little girl, probably 8, following her dad somewhere (perhaps to find a camp). I’ve seen her around the Center a few times in the past couple of days. I think her family just showed up, maybe 3 days ago, and they’re doing the paperwork to get into a state-run camp

I paused and handed her the hat. She stopped and kinda stared at me, like, what are you doing?

“Here! It’s for you. Do you want it?”

In heavily accented English she replied, “thank you.”

So I walked away. When I was a little further I turned around to watch her. She looked it over, put it on, and ran to catch up with her dad.

At 12:30 I went to help distribute soup for lunch down at the barracks. A few teenagers approached me saying, “I need shoes, I need a jacket, can you help me find a blanket?”
I had to tell them that there are no jackets, that I don’t know where to find shoes, and maybe maybe I could find them a blanket after the food finished.
The weather was quite cold today, probably 28 degrees F, and they shivered in line while I shivered watching the line. Smoke filled the air from the piles of trash and old railroad ties they burn to keep warm. One of the refugees taught me the best way to swing my legs to keep the blood pumping. Another tried to teach me some Pashtu.
A few minutes later I noticed one guy, he looked 30, so he was probably 19, without socks. So I kinda sneaked up to him and patted him on the shoulder and offered him the socks. I think at first he thought I was trying to kick him out of line (because I do that to cutters). But the 14-year old next to him knew what I was doing and gave me a thumb’s up.

The guy took the socks, still rather confused, and I went back to watching the line. I could hear the younger guy talking to him, pointing to his feet, saying something like, “Dude, they’re socks. Put them on your feet” in Farsi.

Another guy (maybe 20?) approached me asking for jackets and shoes. I told him I didn’t have those, but asked if he had any gloves (his hands were shoved in his jean pockets). He shook his head, so I pulled off the gloves and tried to hand it to him. He looked embarrassed and refused to take them. I tried to tell him that I had more at home, that these were for him, but his English wasn’t good enough to understand

So I waited until I saw a kid, maybe 12 or 13. He had jeans, a sweater and scarf. But no coat or hat or gloves. So I beckoned him over. He thought I was telling him he could cut in line, so there was a little confusion there. But I handed him the gloves and he took them, dazed, like, “wow, gloves, really?” They’re a little big for his hands, but boys that age grow so fast I think it’ll be fine.

And then another preteen tried to cut in line and I kicked him out. He gave me this pitiful look, coughing. “Please, I’m sick, I need to cut, can you help me?” I had to tell him that everyone has a sore throat and cold, and he still needed to move to the back of the line. But I gave him my pocket kleenexes and he was grinned. “Okay, move back to the end of the line,” I told him. He laughed and walked to the rear.

Tomorrow, once Jordan’s over his stomach flu (it’s going around–all the refugees and volunteers are getting it), we’ll both wear more winter gear and discreetly hand it out to those we see who need it the most.

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Morgan S Hazelwood

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