Mac Rawley, in whose honor Macpack was created, had an unusual affinity for the homeless. In the early 1980’s the family lived in New Mexico, and a weekend camping trip in the Lincoln National Forest on Sierra Blanca exemplifies his grass-roots philanthropy. As we prepared to drive up the mountain, we stopped at a small market to pick up ice and a few other items. Outside, Mac spotted a man holding a sign which read “Hungry please help.” His face was worn, sunburned, and worry lines furrowed his brow.
Mac struck up a conversation with the gentleman, and found out that he was indeed homeless, and had no idea where to find shelter. Mac immediately invited him to come along with us for the weekend, and up the mountain we went. After a day of fishing, we had no fish, but plenty of other food to share. Mac and our guest sat quietly talking by the campfire far into the night.
The next day, we dropped the gentleman off at the market where we first met him, and Mac pressed a twenty-dollar bill into his hand as we were leaving. This time, the man’s sad, hard expression was replaced by a smile. As we drove home, we were smiling, too.
Back in the late eighties my mom and sister and I were driving to the grocery store. As we pulled in to the parking lot we saw a man leaning up against the wall in a crevice. He was thin with a long beard and very gentle eyes. He was probably in his 40’s, but looked a lot older. He was asking for money.
I asked my mom if we could give him some money, but she told me that we barely had enough to buy our own groceries. As we shopped, I felt a constant ache in my chest and stomach. All I could think about the whole time was this man, how much I wanted to help him. His need overwhelmed my young self, and I could not--would not let it go.
I asked my mom again if we could give him something. This time when I asked her she looked right at me and I could see she was about to say no, that we only had enough for us, but she caught my desperation for him--she could see in MY eyes the need to help him.
We were in the produce aisle at the time, and she took me over to a nearby stack of oranges, picked up a huge bag and said we could give these to him. I was so excited. I wanted to talk to him, to hand them to him, to feel that I had helped him in some way.
When we left the grocery store he was still there asking for help. I got out of the car on my own and gave him the bag of oranges. It was a sweet exchange. He smiled and said thank you, brought his hands up to his chest, and said “god bless.” I didn’t grow up in a religious home but I knew his words were of a thankful nature. As I got back in the car and we drove off, I cried all the way home. He and I had shared a life-changing moment in time. I recognized his need and he graciously received my need to help him. I was only 8. I will never forget that day.