As we begin a new year, we have every reason to look forward with hope, optimism and resolutions. But as our eyes sparkle with what could be this year, right there in our peripheral vision is an issue we cannot escape - the homelessness in our community. We all see the problem, but few see a solution. Homelessness is a nationwide issue that can only be addressed on a local level.

No one “chooses” to be homeless. No one says “I want to live under a viaduct when I grow up” or “I’d like to have a severe mental health issue,” or “I’d like to have a drug addiction.” These are people impacted by trauma, hopelessness and extreme poverty. Sadly, not all we do is really as helpful as we hope.

It may make you feel good for a minute, to drop a bunch of blankets and pillows off under an overpass, but don’t. Honestly, it becomes clutter, gets collected and is thrown away. Instead, take your donations to the Coalition for the Homeless, Wayside Mission, or other local providers. Let them distribute it properly. And remember that panhandling is not the same as homelessness. If you are approached for a handout, don’t give money.

We may want to help, but we need to be smart about how we help so we can have the best possible impact.

I’m Bill Lamb, and that’s my Point of View.