Why giving gloves and toques is not just about giving gloves and toques

By Bill Nixon, Director of Programming – The Mustard Seed Calgary

Last week in Edmonton, Alex Ovechkin, the star left winger of the Washington Capitals, saw a man in need and didn’t hesitate to help him. “It was nothing,” Ovechkin said. He was on his way to the store with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov, and saw a man on the street without a shirt in the cold weather. Without giving it a second thought, he went to the store to buy the man a sweater, a coat and a hat.” “You see a guy out there — almost naked in that kind of temperature — I think every human can do something,” he told reporters. I like that.

Ovechkin saw a need and he met that need.

The common denominator between the world-class athlete and the shirtless man was the cold weather. The man’s need to be warm became the bridge between two completely different worlds that otherwise would not have connected. I don’t know much about Mr. Ovechkin, other than his significant skills on the ice. Like many of us, it’s likely that he’s never experienced hunger or homelessness. But Ovechkin has experienced the cold and that made it easy for him to relate to the man without a shirt.

Most of us are the same. Regardless of our circumstances of relative comfort, most of us can find many levels to relate to others if we stop and think about it. Maybe this winter your own experience with hunger will inspire you to sponsor a meal or volunteer serving meals at a shelter. You may be like Mr. Ovechkin and relate to the need to keep warm. If so, maybe you’ll be moved to look through your closet and make a donation of warm clothing to make a difference in someone else’s life. Maybe you’re one of the thousands of Canadians who have experienced what it’s like to be homeless. If that’s you, and you’re living a better life now, perhaps you’ll want to support agencies like The Mustard Seed.

It’s about so much more than gloves and toques (although we need lots of those every winter). The gloves and toques represent an understanding, a shared experience, a common denominator.  It’s relating to another person, even in the briefest of moments – it’s getting a glimpse of their life and responding because “by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not in vain.” – 1 Corinthians: 15:10

These same truth is found in scripture in Jesus’ own words in the book of Matthew 25:35-40:

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Thank you for helping us keep people warm this winter.