All it takes is a wagon and a bunch of kids.
Yesterday, on a Carolina Blue sky day with my beloved Southern sun, and my coffee table wagon transformed into a big grocery collector, my new BFFs and I did our first/trial food collection for Clover Assistance.
Ever since I went to the St. Paul’s Soup Kitchen, serving the neighbors, near and far, has been on my mind. And so … with that thought in mind, and a calling in my heart, I decided that this is my year of service. At least this year, and hopefully, forever more.
You know, I have had a good life.
I have never been hungry, though I sometimes say, “I’m starving.” I have always had a roof over my head and clothes of various sizes, on my body. I haven’t been barefoot unless I wanted to be.
And I have the love of a family. Their faces flash through my mind as I say that. We are as silly and dysfunctional as any family, but there is love in all of its guises.
I have friends who, I think, love me and I love them.
Another thing is, and I mentioned this to someone, recently. I know who I am. You know who we spend a lot of our time figuring out who we are? We use trial and error to navigate our beliefs, personalities, temperaments, to get to this wacko, invisible point where we can say, yesssirreebob, I know who I am, as it that is the goal of life, then what. Is life over at that invisible point, or is the point, not really a fixed point? Haha on that one.
Hopefully, we are never fixed at a point of this is who I am, because that means we will have stopped learning. Know who we are is somewhat of an illusion, but it helps us navigate through parts of life.
Obviously, I didn’t say all of that to my friend. But the point was, I have had a grand time learning about myself … venturing into writing, art, business, photography, sculpting, managing people, motherhood, wife-hood, etc, etc, etc.
And that has been lovely.
But now, I noticed at St Paul’s and when I am giving and doing something for others, I really live. Extending myself, beyond myself and my needs, is where I am.
For those of you who believe in God, I see this as a calling. For those who believe in Unicorns, and other religious philosophies, I believe that you know what I am talking about, too, within your own ideology.
I keep seeing Jesus feeding the multitudes. And making one loaf into many. And so, that is what I am trying to use as my humble model. Yes, Nick and I can give to the assistance, but is that enough?
What if we can multiply efforts?
So that is what we are doing.
I began with people that I know in my neighborhood. I happen to know some wonderful, giving, caring people, and have them surrounding me.
We are a multitude of ages, shapes, sizes and fire pits.
Many have children.
I seen the children riding bikes, playing, running, bopping from house to house. It is a real “Our Gang.”
So, I put the word out that once a month, I would go around with my wagon to collect items of need for the center.
Then I thought, hum, I want to get the children involved. So, I put the word out that if a child wanted to go around with me, they could.
I knew I had one young lady, Meli, a 9-year old who I know a bit.
We were going at 3.
At 2:30, my doorbell rang. At the door was a little boy in a light blue baseball cap, holding a bag of items. I thought he was dropping them off. But whenHe came in, I said, “Are you going with me?” And he said, “Yes.”
Sounds good. Early, but good. This little boy is a character. He knows the drill and was ready to tell me I could stay home and he would handle things.
Then Meli came … my assistant.
I had mentioned to the people next door that I would take their two boys if they wanted. Well, they had some other kids playing at their house, so we took them, too.
In other words, I sort of collected kids and items.
Oh, my daughter and I made chocolate chip cookies and put them in bags to give out at houses where people donated. Those were in a basket.
It ended up sort of like trick or treat as kids clamored to go to doors to get items and then give the people cookies.
I was back in “fairness” world. I had to make sure that each child got a chance to hand out cookies, pull the cart and go to the door. I gave them the information as to what we were collecting for because we stopped at a couple of houses where people were outside.
By the end of the first street, I felt like the Pied Piper.
By the time we finished the houses I knew we were supposed to go to, we all went back to my house, where I hoped we had enough cookies left for everyone.
The children sat at my counter and on my counter, where we talked about how fortunate we were to have food and loving families and that it was our responsibility to help those who didn’t have those things.
They have been taught well, at home, as they all knew.
Have you recently had 9 children in your house, all wanting to be the helpers and having organized chaos ensue?
They emptied the wagon, sorted the goods, counted and bagged and what a sight that was.
Yep, I didn’t tell them, but I was in over my head, for a moment. And then I went back to my Miss Susan,mother of four, grandmother of six, former parkleader, and we got the job done.
Thankfully, my neighbor across the street came over to get her kids and witnessed this scene.
They picked up everything and had it in the bags. A really well-done job.
All but Meli left. I had my assistant stay and do a picture for the FB page where I would put the information. It is a new page I am making. It is “Neighbors Calling” and it is for my neighborhood, so that we can get more people involved and collect more items and help feed more people.
Meli and I chatted as she drew. She was a splendid assistant, but even she was a tad overwhelmed by how many children came. I think the assistant needed an assistant.
As I was walking Meli home, I carried a coat of one of the little boys. I saw his brother and asked if he would take the coat home. He said, “Sure. Can I be the assistant next time?”
“We’ll see,” I said.
I think I will need to draw names. You know, at this age, you do try to make life as fair as possible, even though, that might not be how life players out.
I was beat. My voice, feathered.
But my heart is full.
And I laugh when I think of all of those little children. The future of the world.