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Our Neighbors Are Hungry

November 21, 2012

Five years ago I was busy preparing for the next day’s Thanksgiving feast when I realized I needed to make a run to the post office. In the car I heard the local news about a turkey give-away at the Salvation Army scheduled for that afternoon. It was part of Chad Pennington’s effort to stay involved in this city where he had his college football career at Marshall University. Recognizing that the hungry are everywhere, he was donating the funds for people to come get the fixings for a nice Thanksgiving meal.

I drove on my errand thinking it was nice of a pro football star to remember his start and the support he had had. And then, I promptly forgot about it.

Upon getting back home, I got back to work preparing for the arrival of our out-of-town guests and then the doorbell rang. There was an older man on my front porch, nervously wringing his hands. He asked if I had a car and when I assured him I did, he asked if I would take his wife and him down to the Salvation Army for their free Thanksgiving dinner fixings.

Immediately many negatives raced through my mind—I didn’t know him, my guests would be arriving sometime soon, I still had things to do. But I also understood that the pathway of my day had put me in the car at the time to hear the story on the radio, and I knew the right thing to do.

I drove my car around to their apartment where his wife struggled out the door. She had been seriously ill, but an ID was needed and he did not have one. As we drove, we marveled about how we could live across the street in this day and time and not even know each other.

Then they asked me if I could pick up one of the dinners for a family who lived in the apartment building on the corner. The woman they knew had 4 children and her husband had the truck as he was able to get a job that day. So, hoping no one would see me do it and wonder what was going on, I showed my ID and picked up a turkey dinner for this other family as well.

The hungry are our neighbors. Reach out.

And remember to count your blessings.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 21, 2012 3:37 am

    Awesome! Good on ye! 🙂

    Years back when i needed it, a neighbor bought me a fresh Thanksgiving turkey. Brought it to the house Thanksgiving morning. He didn’t ask if I needed it or even wanted it. I’m sure he figured out that we could have used it regardless. Just knocked on the door, said “Happy Thanksgiving! I’m sure you’ll know what to do with this!” Smiled and walked off.

    I guess raking his leaves for free my entire childhood paid off. 😉

    People remember the things you do for them, be they good or bad, and they’ll remember that if you ever need a hand. And they’ll act appropriately.

    • November 21, 2012 1:19 pm

      Many chose to act like this need doesn’t exist. It is nice to know that some people keep their eyes open and are not afraid to act.

  2. November 21, 2012 3:49 am

    An inspiring story – thank you for sharing it.

    • November 21, 2012 1:20 pm

      Like many people, I had assumed that the poor lived in poor neighborhoods. When you realize your neighbor is in trouble, it strikes closer to home. It could be you.

  3. November 21, 2012 8:27 am

    Frontline on PBS just did a show on the kids in families who are struggling to survive… some of the families don’t have enough food or a place to stay. It’s so sad, it made me cry. In this land of plenty. How did we let it get this bad?

    • November 21, 2012 1:28 pm

      Perhaps I should tell more the story because helping feed the hungry is not a one day thing. Every few weeks the doorbell would ring and once again the little man would be on my porch with some need. Sometimes it was for $10 to buy some medicine until the check came in. Once it was a request for a can of soup; they had nothing to eat and I had several containers of homemade soup in the freezer. Whatever the need, each time he promised to repay us and he always did. Once he came and said he could not pay us back but he wanted to work it off. So he and Graham straightened the garden shed; another time the garage. He had his pride and we were careful not to just hand over the money. That is the easy part. Yet letting him enter our lives this way taught us to honor his work ethic…he wanted to be responsible for what he received. Once he told me he had applied for disability but was concerned about the interview. I walked him through his answers to the questions we expected. He came over a couple of weeks later happy to announce it was approved and their household income had doubled to $1200 a month. Shortly after that they moved to senior housing, across the street from a Big Lots and on a bus line. He thanked me for being his angel for that year. It is so easy for us to give a few food items at this time of year, but the needy are our neighbors and they are hungry year round.

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