January 5 – As I have mentioned several times before, I am not a fan of cold weather with its strong winds, little sunshine (and that hidden among the clouds), and snow, lots or little. I just don’t like it, and neither does Dale. At this time of year when we listen to the weather reports, none of them are encouraging to those of us who volunteer with the Harvesters’ organization to bring food to those who drive up to the church to receive all kinds of food!
Every day we would say “Well, the weatherman isn’t always right. He can make mistakes, too.” So as usual, I had been praying before our most recent effort that we would not have a snowstorm, and that the temperature would not go down to one digit! Well, I was thankful to find that no snow at all came down, but it was still less than twenty degrees when we started unloading the truck.As we drove down the road to the parking lot, we noticed that there were, as usual, lots and lots of cars parked in the line that stretched down the hill to the church where several volunteers were waiting for the truck to arrive. Two of our folks, Pam and Dennis, were walking along the road writing down info given to them by the drivers. Family name and number of recipients were written on the chart. Pam told us afterward that there were about 140 families in the line, one of the highest in the months they had led out in the food distribution.
One important part of the day’s work that I need to mention. For the first time in my adult life, it was so cold that I had to double up on my clothing! Earlier in the morning, our thermometer stood at about 15, and that is NOT very warm. I didn’t even bother to put on my bright yellow short-sleeved shirt and the same colored light jacket with a hood, because I knew they wouldn’t be warm enough to do my job. Instead, I had a short-sleeved shirt, then a sweat shirt, and finally my heavy outer jacket. Then on went my slacks over which I put a heavy pair of blue jeans. Since I had on a pair of heavy socks over the first pair, I had to hunt up some shoes that were larger than I usually wear—from size 7 to size 8! Then with a pair of heavy woolen gloves and a stocking cap, I was ready to go!We took our usual places on the right side of the truck, while others worked on the left side. Young Rob told me he likes that side because it has so many different kinds of food. That on our side hardly varies. Usually there are sacks of potatoes, but not this time. Instead, we had huge carrots, beautiful apples, seedless watermelons, several kinds of salad packed in tall jars, and onions.
The crates and boxes are stacked way up to the roof of the truck, so I normally climb onto the ledge and reach up high enough to get things going. I didn’t fare too well, however, because a number of well-meaning folks cautioned, “Now Chris, you shouldn’t be doing that! Let some of the younger guys bring the apples (or watermelon, or onions, etc.) down. We don’t want you to hurt yourself!” When we first began as volunteers, nobody ever said anything, but I might as well not try to change their minds now. Too late? Or too old?When we had bagged up a number of apples from the crates, I hurried around the truck just to see what the folks on the other side were taking care of. It was certainly a lot more varied than our side! They had a lot of bread: white, wheat and a couple kinds of hamburger buns. Some were taking the eggs from the pile that reached to the top of the section. All brown eggs, packed in two-and-one half dozen in trays, kept Donnalene busy for the couple hours that the truck was there. Each family received three of these trays. Several kinds of yogurt including Dannon, Oikos, and Yoplait with their bright colors, looked tempting! Many different kinds of cheese were distributed: Cheddar, both chunk and shredded, Havarti, Gouda, Monterey Jack, Colby, and others. There were boxes of Philly Cream cheese, butter, various kinds of “pretend butter”, French Onion dip, and whipped cream.
How grateful the folks were as they smiled, said thank you repeatedly, and wished each of us a very Happy Holidays. One of the ladies whose smile is so precious, handed me a card to share with Dale. When we got home, we found that she had written on the card, “Thank you for all you do to help us. God bless each one of you. Merry Christmas.” Those few words mean so much!
I think I have mentioned in earlier blogs somewhere along the way that I really do enjoy talking with people, and probably spend a bit too much time chatting with the drivers, but I just plain love people! We were a bit short on volunteers, but the fourteen of us managed to work a little harder and to keep things going till all of the foods were distributed.
Once we arrived home several hours later, we unpacked the truck and had BREAKFAST! Oh well, we were only about four hours late. Very mixed-up meals on Harvesters’ day. With dinner that late, we only had a bit of food for supper—about 9 o’clock!
As I think back on the day’s good points, I remember the opportunity we had to help others and to share a smile and a hug to show our love for them. Do you remember the words of Jesus when He said, “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto Me.” It’s very appropriate here. – CHRIS