Many of us look forward to the holidays, as it’s a time when we’ll be surrounded by loved ones – eating delicious meals and enjoying all the warmth.
Sadly though, not everyone is this fortunate.
Some don’t have family or special ones to spend the holidays with.
And some go hungry on these days we deem to be special.
Carmen Mendez of Anaheim, California paid witness to this when she and her boyfriend were dining at a Raising Canes restaurant around Thanksgiving.
That’s where she encountered a homeless woman begging people for their leftovers.
But seeing something like this isn’t out of the ordinary for Carmen.
“I live in an area that’s not the greatest,” she told TODAY.
“Literally right outside my door there are homeless people at the parks. So sometimes I’ll go sit with them and ask about their day, and ask if they want to go to a shelter. I’m more than happy to put them in my car and take them there.”
Carmen saw the woman approaching customers for their leftovers when she was waiting for her food.
“Not one person said yes, they all ignored her and threw it away it broke my heart. I have been volunteering with the homeless now for many years. They don’t repulse me or make me sick to my stomach,” Carmen wrote on Facebook.
“I hold them all with so much love. So I told Fred if I see her before we are done eating I will give her my food.”
Carmen and her boyfriend finished eating. Though Carmen looked for her, she couldn’t spot the homeless woman. She was heartbroken over the fact that so many people would deny this hungry woman their scraps.
She had just five fries and a chicken strip left on her plate. As she was about to throw them away, the woman approached.
“I heard a very quite voice ask me if I had anything left. I turned around and it was her..l gave her my food and watched her sit and eat it…..but something didn’t feel right…I felt like a horrible human being feeding her my leftover chicken strip..she deserved so much more…”
Carmen thought she deserved a full meal.
“When I ordered the meal I asked the employee for a huge favor to please do not kick her out as we waited. I could already see the disgust on people’s faces as she sat at the table eating the leftovers I had given her. News flash people, not all homeless people smell like roses,” Carmen wrote.
The woman was making her way out of the restaurant when Carmen stopped her.
She told her she had a whole meal for her.
“The look on her face said it all. I have never felt something like this…pure, real gratitude. That hug she gave me was like a hug I had never felt. Those tears she shed were felt deep in my heart. I held her tight and let her let it out,” Carmen wrote.
Carmen had no idea that her boyfriend was snapping a photo of her embracing the homeless woman.
She ended up posting and explaining the photo on Facebook.
That post ended up going viral with more than 122,000 shares.
“I wasn’t repulsed by it, I just held her,” Carmen said. “And that is a moment I will never ever forget. So next time (yo)u judge a homeless person think twice. Not all of them are homeless because of a drug addiction or because they are lazy.”
As we’re all enjoying the holidays, perhaps we should remember that it’s the season of giving. And who better to give to than people who truly need a helping hand!