My church operates a non-profit organization called St. Vincent de Paul which is a food bank for people in need.
Job losses and the deteriorating economy have increased the traffic for the past few months, so I drifted over there this morning to help distribute the bags of groceries. It seemed like a chore, but it turned into something so much more.
Half way into the morning a woman came in with two young boys. They caught my attention because the boys looked just like the kids on “A Christmas Story.” Remember? Ralphie and his little brother, (?). They even wore glasses.
The mother wore a short sleeved tee shirt despite sub-freezing temperatures. Our host came over and told us the mother didn’t own a coat. After we got over our shock and awe that anyone could endure that kind of cold, a voice from above reminded me I have a coat closet stuffed with jackets I can’t seem to toss.
Since I only live a couple of blocks from the church I sneaked away and went tearing through my coat closet. I found four coats that I’ll probably never wear again and a few sweaters. The boys worried me most. My coats are shades of hot pink and purple. But I found a Superbowl 35 jacket given me by an NFL official, and a camouflage jacket one of my boys left behind.
I raced back over with my bundle and took it to the back of the church. I told Mike, our leader, to offer them without giving away from whence they came. I could kind of play Santa.
I fully intended for the little family to take them all. But get this…Mike told me the woman began to cry and picked my fleece lined car coat dating to 1998. (It WAS fabulous in its day.) She refused to take another. She said someone had already given her boys coats and she wanted us to give the rest to someone else in need.
She walked over to me with tears running down her face and gave me a huge hug. (Obviously, Mike ratted me out.) She looked absolutely fabulous – the way I may have looked 10 years ago….Nah.
She looked better in it than I ever did.