Christmas Gifts for Rio’s Homeless

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Here in Rio de Janeiro, the economic impacts from Covid are easy to see. The number of homeless increases every week and includes growing numbers of young children. Without enough food to eat, it is impossible to imagine that these sweet, adorable boys and girls will have anything resembling Christmas this year. I would like to ask you to help me change that. 

Between now and Christmas, I will be buying presents for children. Targeted items include children’s books, stuffed animals (new if possible), toys, clothes and dried foods. I will gift wrap these, write heartfelt notes and deliver each gift in person.  

I have no chance of solving the homeless crisis here in Rio. This is not my goal. My goal is much more modest: it is to provide decency and respect to people who so seldom get to feel these things; and to bring a smile to children’s faces. When distributing gifts, I will look each recipient in the eye, ask them their names and make sure that they feel seen.

I will be spending my own money, but any assistance from you will only help. By my estimates, as little as $5 could help buy Christmas presents for 2-3 children. I have set up a Fundly Campaign page and invite you to contribute if you can.

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If you are in Rio de Janeiro, I would happily accept any items you’d like to donate for me to give out. You’re also very welcome to help me buy the presents, wrap them and write the notes, and or to come with me when I hand out the gifts to these wonderful men, women and children who have found themselves in these difficult circumstances. 

More on the planned approach and the logic behind it. 

Step 1. I will buy gifts, specifically targeting the following items:

  • Children’s books. I doubt that most of children know how to read or have any access to educational materials. Many may not ever get to look at something like a children’s book. These books can help broaden their imaginations and grow their relationship with reading and writing.  
  • Basic art supplies, such as colored pencils, crayons, markers and paper/coloring books. There is likely a limited creative space for these children and this could be a very meditative and/or expressive medium for them. I think it would be a really great gift for all ages.
  • Stuffed animals. I would like to buy some new stuffed animals for children so that they can have something comforting to hold onto during these days spent in such a discomforting world. (Even if it is only for a short time).
  • Clothes (children and adults). It’s very helpful for them to get new, clean clothes so that they can feel the decency of comfort and cleanliness (even if only for a day). 
  • Dried foods like beans and rice for adults and families.
  • Sweets for children. Because it’s Christmas and children love sweets. 

Except for the stuffed animals and food, I will buy everything from second-hand street vendors that operate around Rio. With poverty increasing, more and more people are selling second-hand items on the street as a means of survival. By buying things here, I’ll be able to purchase more gifts, limit the environmental impact and be providing money directly to the impoverished people who sell these items (multiplying the impact of the campaign). 

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Step 2: I will wrap the presents and write cards to give out with each gift. Wrapping the presents will give people the thrill of opening a gift and provide them with a sense of “normalcy”. Handwritten cards provide an added personal touch and will include a compassionate note that will hopefully bring them a bit of good energy. 

Step 3: I will deliver the presents in person to the homeless people living on the streets, compassionately looking them in the eye and asking them their name while giving them a warm smile (from a distance). This is a key aspect as I intend to make sure that these people feel human by being seen. I will give the gift of decency and respect to people who are so often ignored, degraded, vilified and/or harassed by others. These are good people; decent people. They deserve compassion and respect. Trust me, I have seen how much they appreciate kindness and acknowledgement when giving them baked goods that I’ve made for them. It means something to them and it provides them with a brief moment of goodness in what is an otherwise very difficult life. The children, in particular, light up with joy. It is my intention to make as many people feel this way on Christmas as I can. You can help me greatly expand on the number of people who get to feel this. Thank you.

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