The Simple Things

By Amanda Sutherland

It all started with a woman with no comb and a man with no razor. These are just simple things, but they are important enough to make a huge difference in someone’s life.

Amanda Sullivan, a high school junior at the British School of Boston and volunteer at the community dinner at the Advent Church in Boston.

I am Amanda Sutherland, a high school junior at the British School of Boston. I have been volunteering at the community dinner at the Advent Church in Boston, where every Tuesday agroup of volunteers provides meals for people in need.  There are generally 80 to 100 people who attend.

I began my volunteering work in 2009, and during the time that I have spent there, I have come to appreciate how difficult some of these people’s lives are and how much something simple can mean.

Several weeks ago, a man came in with a bag over his shoulder that was more patches than original fabric, and as he sat down, a tiny pink razor fell out of it. When I pointed this out to him, he laughed, looking embarrassed and told me that this was all he could afford.

The next week, one of our regular ladies, who generally looks very clean and well dressed, had a huge snarl in her hair. It was making her extremely uncomfortable, even to the point that it got a name, “The Snarl”. She told me that she had run out of shampoo and had no comb, so what started out as a small knot was turning into a mat. Since she has no money, she could do nothing about it.

The same day, another lady seemed extremely pleased about something.  When I asked her about it, she said that she had found an eye liner on the street that was “only a bit used.” The fact that such a simple thing could light up her entire day made me think how wonderful it would be if these people could be supplied with some toiletries (for example: shampoo, comb, toothbrush and paste… etc.).

The church dinner program itself cannot buy these supplies so I thought that I would find a way to provide them. Local hotels, my mom’s dentist and neighbors donated to the project. I thought the travel-sized items would be the best as the homeless would not want to carry around large bottles of shampoo or toothpaste.

With the help from my parents, I made up 120 toiletries sets and gave them out at the Tuesday dinners before and after Christmas. Probably the most wonderful part of this project was seeing how much the guests appreciated my efforts, and I am thrilled to say that The Snarl has disappeared.

If everyone did a simple thing, then maybe it would turn into something bigger and really make a difference.

I would like to thank all people who were willing to donate to this project to make it possible to share some simple things. Herman Greenberg at Gary Drug, Jack and Cassie Gurnon at Charles Street Supply, Mark White, Donna Petro at Cambridge Trust Company, Michael Dobies, The Parker House, Beacon Hill Bistro, The Taj Boston, The Park Plaza Hotel, The Millennium Boston, The Fairmount Copley Plaza, XV Beacon, Charles River Dental and Dr. Silvestri at Post Office Square Dental.

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