January 23

Posted on: January 24, 2013

Today was the first day of the food giveaway and I wanted to be there.  Surprisingly, John let me go by myself.  I’m not sure what to think about that.

But before we opened the doors, I tried calling Pam again.  She answered!  Oh, how I have missed hearing my sister’s voice. I guess when I called before she was just out shoveling snow.  Their power was out for a while, but it’s been back on and steady.  Seems their grid is tied to another town, and that town has a hospital so it stays on.  Very lucky for Pam: she is total electric; no power means no heat for her!  For the few days it was down, she stayed with her daughter and they heated with the fireplace.  She learned real fast it’s not an efficient way to stay warm!  Pam was stocked up from summer canning, but even so, her supplies are starting to run low.  Nothing I can do to help her.

Pam told me she saw the National Guard in her town a few days ago.  Several trucks cruised down Main Street; they never stopped; it was like they were just watching, observing and wanting to be seen.  She was also surprised at how the locals had come together during this crisis to take care of each other; certainly nothing like the big city she had left only two years ago.  I promised I would try to call again in a week.  It was good to hear her voice, but certainly not like the hour long talks we use to have several times a week.


I got back to the main room, buoyed by talking to my sister, just as the doors were opened.  At first there were just a few who came in, unsure if we were really giving out food; then as the word spread there were more and more.

Darlene manned the front desk and wrote down names and gave the person a card for how many household members they had.  Then Carolyn, and Kathy (who Carolyn got to help), and myself, filled pre-determined items and pre-determined amounts into a bag or a box, much like they do at the Food Pantry at St. Vincent DePaul’s in town.  Yesterday, while I was at home, they had used those boxes of baggies and filled them with bulk stuff, mostly sugar, ¼#, (from the 20# bags), pasta, 1/2#, (from the 25# bags), rice, salt, all from the larger bags. Everyone got a roll of toilet paper, a bar of soap, and paper towels if requested.  Not one person complained and the distribution went smoothly.

I was happy to see Paul come in for their two bags.  Donna was still coughing and didn’t want to spread her cold.  Paul was trying to handle the bags one handed, with his arm still in a sling.

“Let me put those in the car for you, Paul,” I offered.  He just nodded.  As I set the bags in the back seat of their new scout car, he thanked me for sending Dawn over.  I had seen her earlier, getting their share for those grandkids, but she hadn’t said anything about going there.  Typical Dawn.

“She changed our bandages like a pro,” he smiled, “Then she gave Donna a bottle of Nyquil and I finally got some sleep.” He laughed then got serious.  “This is all a good thing,” nodding toward the building and the food giveaway, “but how long do you think you can keep it up?  How long before people get a bit of strength back and get mean again?” Valid questions.

“I don’t know, Paul.  We’ll keep it going as long as we can.”  As an afterthought, I told him Petey was sleeping here; partly to protect the food; mostly to not be in his empty house.  “But he will want to go home eventually, and as long as we have food to give away, this building will need protection.  Please, think about what options we might have.”

After three hours, we closed and locked the doors, putting a notice on the door, that anyone who did not receive their share, could come back at the listed time in a few days.

As everyone went for their coats, I had to remind them to take a bag or box for themselves.  Kathy needed two bags for her and Bob, Darlene was entitled to two, for her and her husband; Carolyn wasn’t going to take hers, until I insisted and told her if she didn’t want it, to give it to the Kitchen.   She took her share.  Then the three looked at me.  Kathy spoke up first.

“You have four people at home, you need to take yours,” she stood there, fists on now boney hips.  More to keep community suspicion at bay then to appease my friend I picked up an empty box and held it out to her.  She smiled and filled it with the pre-determined amount, while Darlene made notes that we each had taken our share this week. Satisfied, we shut the lights off and locked up.   I offered Kathy a ride home and drove her
the three blocks.  Carrying the two bags of groceries wasn’t so bad, but it put her at risk of being mugged, even in this small town.  Food was gold right now.


I backed the car into the barn and slogged thru the fresh snow to the side door.  The heat of the house, warmed by the wood stove felt welcoming as I shed my coat and boots.  I asked Jason to get the box of food out of the car for me.

John had a scowl etched on his bearded face, wrinkles furrowed in his bald scalp.  “Why did you take food?  We don’t need any,” he questioned.

“I know we don’t need it, but if I didn’t, then others would question that, and suspect that we have a lot of our own supplies.  That could put us in danger.”  I hadn’t told either of them about Hapson; it remained a secret between me, Tom, Donna and Paul.  I hoped it would stay that way.  “Don’t worry,” I tugged playfully at his short beard, “I will either sneak it back into the supplies, or we will find someone to give it to.”  That seemed to satisfy him.


Tomorrow when I go to the office, I’ve got to get some news.  I haven’t a clue what’s going on in our country!


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