I saw a video on Facebook about a young man who “upcycles” clothing for the homeless.
It made me smile, and smiles have been a bit rare of late.
Seventeen-year-old Dillon Eisman lives in Los Angeles. When he was fourteen, he visited some homeless teenagers and felt terrible about the fact that the teenagers didn’t have anything nice to wear to school or a job interview. So he taught himself to sew, through internet videos.
“I’ve never had a formal training at all,” says Dillon modestly.
Dillon sews for two hours a day. Thrift stores send him their worn old clothes and he not only repairs but improves and beautifies them; sometimes he sews on patches and buttons, and sometimes he redesigns the whole garment. Finally he sews in a label from his nonprofit, “sew swag,” and donates the beautified clothing to homeless shelters. These attractive, fashionable clothes build confidence and help the recipients to find employment because they can dress up for job interviews. They also cut down on textile waste and used clothing ending up in the garbage, so it’s good for the environment.
“I know every day when I have to wake up super early for school, picking out my outfit really gets me excited,” Dillon explains. “It makes me feel confident in myself.”
This is the best example I’ve seen in awhile, of what it means to follow the Golden Rule.
Dillon realized that nice outfits made him feel confident. He realized that homeless people didn’t have nice outfits. He learned to sew and made them as many nice outfits as he could, so that they could feel confident too.
What if we were all like this? Not only grudgingly chipping in so that poor people don’t starve or freeze and so that we don’t feel guilty, but genuinely wanting them to feel happy in the same way we want ourselves to feel happy? This is what it means to treat others as we want to be treated. This is loving our neighbor as ourselves. This is real, Christian justice.
Think of something you really like, something that improves your life and makes you feel better. What’s your thing? What makes you happy and confident? Nice new clothes? Really good coffee? Swimming? Aldi chocolate? A manicure? Painting?
Think of a way to share that thing with someone who doesn’t have access to it. Buy a really good cup of coffee for the homeless person you pass on your way to church. See if you can arrange art or music lessons for disadvantaged kids– or teach them yourself. Don’t just give cans to the food pantry, throw in your favorite chocolate bar. Something like that.
Of course, if clothes are your thing and you don’t have two hours to sew, you can donate to sew swag yourself. Dillon takes shipments of used clothes and also money donations.
You should love your neighbor as yourself; not a leaner, more austere version of yourself who doesn’t like nice things. Let’s all look at how we can apply that the way Dillon did.
(image via Pixabay)