Tag Day

tag dayToday I volunteered for AIDS Saskatoon’s Tag Day. We raise awareness of HIV/AIDS in Saskatoon; talk about what the organization does, hand out red ribbons, and accept donations for the crisis fund.

I spent two hours freezing outside (because naturally it will only be 12 C on June 14), but during that time I saw some of the best and worst of people.

One old man was doing loops around the block with his friend. He had shuffled by us on the corner of 22nd and 2nd a number of times, before I started talking to them and offered a red ribbon.

Both looked dirty, their clothing torn, and my guess is they are homeless. I asked them if they would be willing to wear the ribbon and let people know about AIDS Saskatoon as they walked around. Both nodded. So I passed a ribbon out. Then one man reached deep into the pocket of his baggie, overstretched, grey track pants, to hand me a quarter and dime.

I assured him he didn’t need to make a donation, that talking about AIDS Saskatoon is great. He motioned for me to take the money. I offered to pin the ribbon on him. He gave me a big smile and said thank you.

It was the most moving moment of the day. Someone who hardly has anything for himself was willing to give to others.

I smiled and said “Good morning,” to everyone that passed us.

Most would at least smile back, but some had that smile disappear quickly when they heard the word AIDS. Then their hand came up, they turned their back and said, NO. Other people would completely ignore us. As if by not making eye contact we could be willed away.

But far more people would come and chat. Tell stories of friends and relatives who volunteered with an AIDS organization or work in health care, ask questions. Sometimes they would donate. Others they didn’t. A few people even gave some coins as they walked away, before coming back with $5 saying it really is a good cause and to thank us for being out there are talking.

A couple of really tough looking guys took ribbons … I figured they would be destined for the garbage, but later when they walked past again, they were wearing them on their chests.

It was a really good morning. In the end we raised more than $160 for AIDS Saskatoon and we were only one of many locations around the city talking to people.

Do you want a chance to help out? You can find out more here: http://www.aidssaskatoon.ca/web/content/donate

And thanks Saskatoon, for showing me you are engaged and care.

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