This morning, in response to a suggestion by TC Bell, I went to hand out Bernie Sanders fliers to people in line at an event I'd never heard of, Denver Santa Claus Shop. Apparently this non-profit group has been operating in Denver since 1932, well into the Great Depression.
What I saw there was flabbergasting. A nearly endless line snaked through the former KMart building at Monaco & Evans. Maybe a thousand people were waiting for what TC said takes three hours to get free Christmas gifts to give to their children. Since, according to the DSCS web site, they anticipate helping 14,000 children this year, and since today was the only weekend day they're open, it's reasonable to suppose that four or five thousand people might have been through there during the five hours they were open.
That so many people in this area are willing to go through that much standing around to wait for a modestly priced toy is staggering. This is not open to just anyone who wants to save money on their holiday shopping. As that site says, "Denver Santa Claus Shop works with local social service, welfare, charitable, religious, housing, agencies and organizations, etc., inviting their clients to the Shop to choose toys for their children." No doubt many of those families were getting their entire Christmas gift giving today. The amount of genuine poverty around us can be hard to see, and so it is greater than most of us realize.
Of the hundreds of people to whom I gave fliers, some said they were supporters of Bernie and almost all of them seemed receptive. They were in a hurry to get in out of the cold and snow and to get their place in line, so I didn't get into conversations with them. I just said, "Bernie Sanders for President--he has the solution we need," or "He wants these kids (pointing to their kids in tow) to go to college for free." Both lines seemed to get a good response; these people don't need me to tell them about the severity of the privations they endure every day. They want something to give them hope for their future, but more importantly for their children's future. The movement of which Bernie is the current leader can give them that hope.
After I'd been out there about three hours, when I was beginning to think about going over to Starbuck's for something warm, a guy in charge of the event came out and told TC and me to leave. Then, before we had a chance to respond, he grabbed my arm and pushed me away, and did the same to TC. Then, without giving us time to move, he said, "OK, I'm going to go get the police." In a minute he came back with several sheriff's deputies. As soon as I saw them, before this guy could say anything at all, I said, "I want to file a complaint. This man assaulted me." That seemed to reframe the situation for the deputies, because they hesitated. Eventually, the guy apologized, sort of, he and I shook hands, and TC and I left. We had used up almost all the fliers we had with us anyway, and I was still getting cold. I hope that some of those to whom we gave them will read them and be ready to join in.