100 Letters to the Homeless for Burners Without Borders - Detroit

Posted by Francesca Gagliano on Friday, December 2, 2016

Danielle Kaltz organizes the Burners Without Borders chapter for Detroit and hosts an annual backpack packing event where she gathers a couple of hundred (maybe more!) volunteers to fill backpacks with provisions (that she collected as donations) for people in need living on the streets. 

The event was very organized. Kaltz created a model assembly line where many provision stations were set up on folding tables. People moved through carrying one or two backpacks and filled them with: canned tuna, beans, can openers, hand-written letters, pairs of socks, gloves, hats, hand-made scarves, toiletry bags filled with hygiene products, hand warmers, water, juice, soft protein bars, $5 McDonalds gift cards --you name it--whatever could be put into a backpack that would help someone in need, Danielle thought of it and filled the backpacks with it.

Everyone was a volunteer.

Including this small, happy, silent dog that acted almost like it was directing--or herding us all along in this unified, convivial fashion. It didn't stop for any one person, but acknowledged us all----His movement was swift and constant yet wasn't running or stopping to sniff--it just moved with an energetic, sprightly jaunt.

Below are some of the letters I wrote/drew for the homeless people who will receive a backpack. I wrote 100 letters and another volunteer wrote 200!  I give my hat to this other volunteer. 

Danielle had set the packing event on the Sunday after Thanksgiving so I was making these letters the week of the holiday. While writing and drawing I thought of someone who used to care for me when I was young and I went in search of my former babysitter's memorial prayer card. She had passed away one year earlier on Thanksgiving day. On the back of her prayer card is a quote from Fred Rogers, 

"If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; 
how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of.
There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person."

I carried the prayer card with me to my writing station and began to incorporate Sandi and the Mister Rogers quote into almost all of the letters. 

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