The Selam Soccer Club and some of the seeping bags they donated.

Local Kids Spearhead Sleeping Bag Drive for Homeless

The Poster created by Selam Soccer Club Commemorating the Event
The Poster created by Selam Soccer Club Commemorating the Event

“Let’s help our kids learn early that they, too, can give back and help a hurting world, one small act of kindness at a time.”
– Lea Berhane, Parent quote summarizing the event.

Selam Youth Soccer Club (SYSC) is an Eritrean Youth Soccer Club, with programs for kids age 6 to 16.  Founded by 3 parents in October of 2007, SYSC is currently preparing over 80 players for the physical, emotional and mental complexities of Soccer as well as the disciplines and responsibilities for life after soccer. Parents and children from Selam were doing just that, on their day off on Presidents Day, when BOSS connected with them.

It all began with 3 children, Jahrai, Meley and Leila, who were concerned about the individuals they saw living under the Gilman Street over crossing. They began asking questions about the circumstances of these individuals, why they were there, why they had to live that way, and why they weren’t apparently receiving any assistance. Their parents, Lea and Amanuel, had difficulty answering these tough questions to the children satisfaction. Eventually the idea of providing sleeping bags to those in need was born.

The children are associated with Selam Soccer Club and decided to bring the issue and opportunity to their friends. These friends took up the call and energized their families to also get involved. They coordinated with BOSS’s Gwen Austin to arrange an event, and select a day and time to give out brand new sleeping bags to people staying in the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park, which is directly across the street from the BOSS Multi-Agency Service Center. Thanks to Gwen, the children also learned how to interact with their “new friends” they were helping and more about the needs of people living in the streets.

All-in-all there were more than 45 youths with their families who gave out more than 35 sleeping bags to the most at-risk individuals in our community.

The motivation behind the parents and the team to do this kind of project every year is the understanding that children must practice compassion in their daily lives. Last year they provided over 85 care package necessities to a women and children’s shelter. Parents in the Selam community believe that one of the best ways to teach this to kids is when they practice giving without the need to gain anything in return, when there are those who are suffering, and when they experience the internal reward of feeling appreciated.  Compassion enables all of us to connect to human suffering with care and understanding, acting in ways that brings comfort to those around us. The power of fear is easy and quick but short-lived. The power of love requires more work and takes longer but children never outgrow its influence.

These children lead the charge for change and are truly Turning Lives Around!  Helping to meet even the smallest need can be what helps someone to make it one more day, to feel cared for and give hope.  Here are more pictures from this great event. If you feel inspired and would like to donate blankets, sleeping bags, ponchos, umbrellas, socks, or any other necessary item, please contact Gwen at gaustin@self-sufficiency.org or510.649.1930 x 1001.

 

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