While driving home from school today my children and I witnessed a sad yet familiar sight: an elderly homeless man in a wheelchair holding a cardboard sign that read, “Had stroke. Can’t work. Need money. Please help me.” We were stopped at a major intersection in Denver less than a mile from our home. The man had a raggedy white beard and hardened complexion. He wore a tube hat and oxygen prongs that attached to a tank hanging from the back of his wheelchair. We were stopped at a long traffic light, the plastic bin he dangled for donations inches from our car window.

“Mommy give him money,” Rebecca said.

“We gotta help him,”  said Casey.

Ordinarily, I would have gently replied, “No, not today,” for two reasons: because I had visions of cars railroading into us while stopped at this busy intersection, and, because there is so much need here in Denver and around the world that it pains me to see. And how exactly do you pick one person to help over another? Who among us can truly judge?

But this time, it was my children’s entreaty that stopped me. I got out of the car, the light still mercifully red, and handed the man a dollar bill. Had I had more money in my wallet, I might have given him a $5 or $10 bill. Just because.

I hopped back in the car and my son said, “Thanks, Mom. Now you’ll have really good karma.”

When earthquakes rumble, Hurricane Irene threatens, and the homeless are still homeless, here’s wishing good karma for all of us.

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