With Christmas just around the corner, I have decided to bring our charity of the month a little bit closer to home this time. I tend to use bigger, more well known charities because they are known and trusted by my customers, which is important to me. But I feel like I can make an exception for this one. I have chosen my local homeless shelter to send all donations to this time. As I was growing up I spent quite a bit of time homeless and living on the streets. I didn't actually stay at a homeless shelter to sleep, but there was one in Kelowna, BC, that helped me out a lot. They had a soup kitchen where I went for my daily meals, and there was also a youth shelter that I frequented sometimes even though they knew I was a bit too old to be there (only by a year or so, so they still let me come). These experiences opened my eyes to what it's like to be homeless and have nowhere to go. We often slept in our tent in the woods, or sometimes just in a sleeping bag in the city park. It was a luxury to wash our clothes or to have a hot shower. Cooking cans over a campfire became the norm. Our dog stayed up all night on guard for whatever beings came lurking in the night. Not only was my housing situation nonexistent, but the person I accompanied myself with was also dangerous and unpredictable. We sold drugs on the beaches and spent many days on LSD watching the mountains dance in the distance. Other times I spent the night running in the woods from some one who was suffering from delusions, attempting to kill me over something that was completely fabricated in his mind. I spent nights with the Quebecois hippies, picking fruit in the orchards and learning french. Eventually it was time to come home. I suffered enough abuse to last a lifetime and my fragile mind and body was slowly breaking down, I couldn't take it anymore. After he beat me one day on Christmas, 2014, I made a call and ended up on the next bus out of there. My days of panhandling on the side of the road with my dog were over. It was a bittersweet moment, as I will cherish these memories for the rest of my life, but if I didn't leave when I did, I may not have survived to remember anything at all. Because of these experiences, I am very sensitive to the needs and wants of the homeless community. I can relate with them, as I have been in their shoes. Not many people understand what it's like to have to fend for yourself in every way, or to rely on the kindness of others to help you make it through the day. I spend a lot of time these days donating to the shelters, anything that I have that I don't need or want is given away to those less fortunate. Shoes, coats, and clothing of mine can be found on people all over my town. I hope others choose to see the necessity to help these people as well. Many of them have not asked to be where they are, it is usually a series of unfortunate events that led them to where they are today. And many of them simply need a little push in the right direction with some new clothes, a good meal and some words of encouragement to get back on their feet. While others are plagued by sickness, addiction or mental health issues and may spend the rest of their lives on the streets by choice, which is OK too. They still deserve kindness. I hope you support me in this venture, and maybe we can help others less fortunate have a lovely Christmas too.