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Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:26 PM

I made some signs and I carried some stuff...and that was enough to change the world.

Not the whole world, of course, but some of the world, my world, and sometimes that is enough.

It was just before the holidays, I was a 2nd year teacher in a financial battle with my student loans (they garnished me and the only way to get rid of the garnishment was pay in full, on time, my student loan of $900 a month, for six months. But the garnishment took 25% of my $1800 check (and I only got 9 of those a year) so after the 25% was taken out I was getting paid around 1400 bucks a month, (minus my union dues). To get the garnishment off they wanted $900 more of that $1400 for six months.

And for three months in the summer I didn't get a check at all.

It was awful. I stopped eating breakfast and had a peanut butter sandwich for lunch and usually the same for dinner. Right after payday I'd splurge and buy a 2 lb block of cheese. To this day a grilled cheese sandwich tastes like the king's feast to me.

And I thought it was hard. But then I'd go to school (in the poorest neighborhood in town) and everywhere I looked there was a kid that was hungrier than me. ( I'm a big guy with honking big muscles so even hungry my body had a whole lot of muscle to munch on when times were lean) The school lunch program fed the kids breakfast and lunch (if their parents had filled out the forms and sent them in on time) but I had several students I knew would not be eating until they got back to school the next day. I'm not the kind of guy who can deal with things like that very well. I was getting to the point where I couldn't eat anything without feeling guilty.

And then the worst of the worst happened. It was before the holidays and one of my kid's moms lost her job. And then the dad got run over and killed. My educational assistant stopped at their house and told me the next day, "I am sorry and I shouldn't tell you this," as she burst into tears,"I looked in the cupboards while the mom was in the other room. They have nothing. There wasn't even a bean."

We just stood and looked at each other. She made less than I did and I had noticed that her lunch wasn't much different than mine. Peanut butter, and, just like me, she often gave it away to the students.

And I started crying because I couldn't help. I had no money. My credit was ruined or charged to the hilt. Ironically, I didn't have much more than a bean myself. And I just kept on crying on and off all morning. Standing in class, looking at this kid who just lost his dad and was not going to eat dinner.

And I excused myself, got a marker and some paper, and I put up signs in the teacher's lounge that I needed help. And I put up signs in the hall for an emergency food drive. I sent the kid home that night with my parking meter money from the ashtray of my car, my loaf of bread and my jar of peanut butter.

The next day at school one of the teachers walked up and handed me an envelope of $350--every teacher had ponied up some money-there were only 14 of us in the building. The food drive boxes were stuffed and overflowing with food. And I mean overflowing. I think every teacher emptied their kitchens. A lot of the students did too, from the looks of it.

When I pulled up to my student's house that afternoon, the bed of my Chevy pickup was piled high with a mound of canned and boxed foods. When his mom opened the door to me holding a box of food she looked so grateful and happy. Her four kids all standing around her, jumping up and down and screaming as they started looking in the box of food. They were going to have a feast! I don't remember what all was in the box, but I remember his littlest sister jumping up and down, squealing with glee and holding a can of corn like it was gold. Such joy over a can of corn can break your heart.

Mom didn't speak English so I just held up my finger "WAIT!" and ran back around the corner to the car. I ran back to the house with another box. It was like someone handed them another box of gold! More screams! More joy!

Mom was shaking and looked at me with so many thanks I can't explain the depth of it in words. A few times in my life a person has let down their guard and allowed me to look right into their soul. This was one of them.

And so I grabbed her hand and pulled her around the corner and she saw the mountain of food. And she screamed and began sobbing. This was a mom who, five minutes earlier, thought she would be sending her kids to bed without dinner. She was far away in a new country with no friends and no family to help her. She was on her own and was lost.

And then she was found. And she was sobbing for her kids, for her lost husband, for this new hard life she had found herself in. But her kids were screaming and running around my truck in glee, the neighbors started to trickle out to see what the hubbub was about. And they joined in, helping me carry in the mountain of food. We covered the counters and the floors of the kitchen and it spilled out into the living room and slowly filled that up too. Every surface was food.

The kids were laughing and happy. Walking around while sticking out their tummies as though they had already eaten their feast. Mom stood by a picture of her husband and murmured under her breath. Her tears came and went but she never lost this amazed look that wouldn't leave her face.

And then all the boxes and bags were inside. I hugged mom, my student, even his little brothers and sisters. The littlest sister had dropped her corn somewhere and was now holding one of those double sized cans of peaches. (If Golden Lady is a brand, that is what my hazy memory is filling in). And then I handed mom the envelope of money and left. I didn't wait for her to open it. The poor woman was having to hold up this facade because I was there, and I felt she deserved to scream or run or cry or collapse with only her family in attendance.

And I got to my car, cried some more with my head down on the steering wheel, and then I did that Grinch thing where my heart grew ten sizes to big. I changed that day as I came to the realization that I COULD do something. I could ALWAYS do something--even if it took some work to figure out what that something was. And I vowed then to host a food drive at school every year. And I have.

There are way to many "I's" in this story. It is not about me. I did little if nothing. I made some signs and I carried some stuff. I couldn't afford to do more. I had nothing else to give. And so I used what I had to change the world for this family. What we gave them carried them through while the social safety net that we here at DU defend so vehemently, was put into place.

I remind all of you that even if you don't have an extra dime in your pocket can make a difference. If you have a job, ask your boss tomorrow if you can do a food drive. If your kid is in a school, ask the principal tomorrow if you can run a food drive. If you go to church, have a friend who owns a business or works somewhere that might be cool with it, then ask if they'll host a food drive.

Then make a few signs. Carry some stuff. Change the world you live in for the better.

Peace out DU brothers and sisters. Step up if you can. There are people waiting for your help. (and here is a DUer in need here at Wishadoo: http://www.wishadoo.org/wishlist/139/help-for-new-engine-for-disabled-van/ If you have a few bucks to share we can all help this DUer fix the engine of their wheelchair van)

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Reply I made some signs and I carried some stuff...and that was enough to change the world. (Original post)
DonRedwood Dec 2012 OP
NMDemDist2 Dec 2012 #1
DonRedwood Dec 2012 #23
postulater Dec 2012 #2
Ilsa Dec 2012 #3
grantcart Dec 2012 #4
DonRedwood Dec 2012 #40
CaliforniaPeggy Dec 2012 #5
DonRedwood Dec 2012 #18
Squinch Dec 2012 #6
Maraya1969 Dec 2012 #7
redwitch Dec 2012 #8
freshwest Dec 2012 #9
DonRedwood Dec 2012 #20
Hannahcares Dec 2012 #10
DonRedwood Dec 2012 #19
DonRedwood Dec 2012 #37
FSogol Dec 2012 #11
GoneOffShore Dec 2012 #12
Hekate Dec 2012 #13
DonRedwood Dec 2012 #36
Hekate Dec 2012 #52
Overseas Dec 2012 #14
Liberal_in_LA Dec 2012 #15
Melissa G Dec 2012 #16
DonRedwood Dec 2012 #38
heaven05 Dec 2012 #17
Bozita Dec 2012 #21
kimbutgar Dec 2012 #22
abq e streeter Dec 2012 #24
DonRedwood Dec 2012 #42
leanforward Dec 2012 #25
DonRedwood Dec 2012 #39
femrap Dec 2012 #26
Heathen57 Dec 2012 #27
TrogL Dec 2012 #28
russspeakeasy Dec 2012 #29
madfloridian Dec 2012 #30
DonRedwood Dec 2012 #43
midnight Dec 2012 #31
DonRedwood Dec 2012 #44
midnight Dec 2012 #55
Flatulo Dec 2012 #32
DonRedwood Dec 2012 #45
Lifelong Protester Dec 2012 #33
DonRedwood Dec 2012 #46
defacto7 Dec 2012 #34
HCE SuiGeneris Dec 2012 #35
DonRedwood Dec 2012 #47
line4line77 Dec 2012 #41
OneGrassRoot Dec 2012 #48
DonRedwood Dec 2012 #49
OneGrassRoot Dec 2012 #50
beachgirl2365 Dec 2012 #51
DonRedwood Dec 2012 #53
Patiod Dec 2012 #54

Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:31 PM

1. thank you

IMHE i find that people will help other people when they know there's a need

and too bad you didn't keep one of the boxes for yourself

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Response to NMDemDist2 (Reply #1)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:09 PM

23. I survived...but I did quit teaching for several years so I could make more money

very glad to be back to teaching.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:33 PM

2. You're a good man, DonRedwood

Proud to recommend this.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:34 PM

3. I'm hoping all that love came back to you ten-fold. nt

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:36 PM

4. You are a great great teacher and the lessons that will be learned from your actions


will change those children's lives, have an impact on the teachers and fellow students.


It will impact people here.


And those people will respond and cause further ripples.


Like a stone cast in a still pool the ripples will bounce off the edges and continue. But instead of dissipating they will grow and grow.


From one that has been on that peanut butter sandwich diet a few times, and who has gone to the park for the guys who have nothing with peanut butter sandwiches I salute you as a great teacher and a Captain of the Peanut Butter Brigade.

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Response to grantcart (Reply #4)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 01:59 AM

40. Thank you so much for those kind words

I've come out stronger for my peanut butter days, I hope the same can be said of you.
:0)

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:37 PM

5. And now I'm in tears, my dear DonRedwood...

Thank you for your wonderful story. It is truly a miracle, what you did.

I'm proud to know you here.....and I wish I knew you out there in "real life."

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Response to CaliforniaPeggy (Reply #5)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 10:39 PM

18. I hope it inspires some love!

And thank you for the kind words. You know me better than anyone on here i reckon'. You were the first person to welcome me to DU many moons ago!

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:41 PM

6. K and R

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:43 PM

7. ..

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:43 PM

8. Thank you. nt

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:46 PM

9. Thanks Don! Love you more with every post! (tears, too)

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Response to freshwest (Reply #9)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 10:51 PM

20. I'm just trying to make up for a selfish no-good youth!

I'm making my way to heaven one act of kindness at a time...but, so far, I'm still digging my way out of the hole due to my sketchy past.

:0)

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:48 PM

10. Thank you for your moving story

You will inspire many with this moving story of how we can all help. We're sending all our gifts to Feeding America this year, and driving to every event with a trunk full of canned goods and diapers for the local food drives.bless you for sharing! Peace, hannah

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Response to Hannahcares (Reply #10)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 10:46 PM

19. Very cool! I never think about diapers.

Those must be terribly expensive for a single mom :0(

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Response to Hannahcares (Reply #10)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 01:18 AM

37. And welcome to DU! Forgot to say that!

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:58 PM

11. Great story. Thanks for all you do. n/t

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 10:03 PM

12. Thank you Don Redwood.

You did good.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 10:04 PM

13. Can't stop the tears

BIG reminder to me to send big check to local food bank. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Hekate

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Response to Hekate (Reply #13)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 01:16 AM

36. I'm sure sorry I made you cry. Mighty happy to hear about that check!

Imagine the smiles on the faces who will be getting some extra food!

:0)

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Response to DonRedwood (Reply #36)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 03:35 PM

52. Oh, don't be sorry. Your story touched me deeply--as you meant it to! Good job.

I am a somewhat erratic supporter of our local Food Bank, and though one year I tried giving something every month, I usually end up making a lump sum donation about year's end. Couldn't find the envelopes they sent me, so I will probably just drop by their headquarters some time next week. For an "affluent" county (so people on the outside think), we sure have a LOT of people needing help with the basics.

Happy holidays to you and yours, Don.

Hekate

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 10:07 PM

14. K&R.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 10:07 PM

15. kick

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 10:16 PM

16. Beautiful story.

Thanks for posting. Thank you for what you did and likely still do every day of your life. Your students are blessed to have you, as are we here at DU.

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Response to Melissa G (Reply #16)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 01:35 AM

38. Mighty kind words Melissa--I appreciate that very much.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 10:19 PM

17. you

are a real one. genuine caring gentleman human being. You had my heart sad at your plight and happy for what you did for others while in your troubles. I would shake your hand and if you drink offer you a beer. I almost cried because of this. Thanks for caring enough in a hard hearted world.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 10:55 PM

21. a great big K&R

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 10:57 PM

22. Thank you for such a beautiful story

I teared up reading. You are such an amazing person that your little gesture
developed into an outpouring. There are more of us good people that care about the less fortunate in this country, those on the right have no idea of the suffering poor people in this country. Today I talked to a guy who was complaining about taxes going up and believed that the age of Medicare should go up. He has no idea of real working people in his little stock market world. Comfortable in his office never having to worry about a paycheck or the next meal.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:15 PM

24. Wow.Thank you . I don't even know what else to say.

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Response to abq e streeter (Reply #24)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 10:21 AM

42. Thank you was plenty

:0)

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:16 PM

25. You've got to give of yourself

Thank you sir. I took that from an old song. The good you did that day is beyond belief. The strong suit for you is you took nothing, because you know your situation will change. The mom and kids were just flat out hungry, and you gave the mom hope. I seen something like this once in Izmir, Turkey, from a kid about our same age following us around and then we sit down to eat our bagged lunch. We realized he was hungry. All eleven of us teenage Explorers shared a lot.

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Response to leanforward (Reply #25)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 01:37 AM

39. A very hearty welcome to DU!

Wow--you all traveled to Turkey as teens? That must have been quite an adventure!

There is nothing like travelling outside the United States to make me appreciate what we have here. The only pity is so many have forgotten how to share.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:16 PM

26. You are a good soul. nt.

 

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:18 PM

27. Many thanks for your

reminder about just how sometimes we forget that there are others in more need than ourselves.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:32 PM

28. I could not imagine this.

I taught for three years in a community where nobody was hungry 'cause they all had oil jobs. The kids hated school because their fathers had grade 5 education and were making more than I was with two degrees.

I gave up after three years.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:36 PM

29. Thanks for being part of the human and humane race.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:45 PM

30. Thank you for posting that.

What a thoughtful post.

You know what happened to me one day? I found out accidentally that people who did not even know who in the heck I was online...had read my posts. It had made a difference in their views on education. I did not tell them it was me, because there was no need. I just said the bloggers have made a huge difference. I told her that the teachers in this city now had to become activists on the ground.

So doing something matters, even when we feel like it doesn't.

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Response to madfloridian (Reply #30)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 10:23 AM

43. I understand that! You've opened my eyes on many occasions and I have shared

much of the information you have shared with us.

That was one of the reasons I was so happy to have you back with us!

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:51 PM

31. Amazing story... Thank you for sharing and passing this along...

All of us need to help out this way....

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Response to midnight (Reply #31)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 10:33 AM

44. It is so easy. I'm in a tiny school now and we still managed 3 big boxes of food this year

If 1 in ten would get three big boxes of food...there wouldn't be many hungry people left.

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Response to DonRedwood (Reply #44)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 08:25 PM

55. So happy there are people like you.... thanks for your inspiration...

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:52 PM

32. I hate to use this phrase here, but you are one of a thousand points of light.

Where are the government programs amidst so much need?

Get connected to your community.

Think small.

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Response to Flatulo (Reply #32)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 10:39 AM

45. we are all a point of light :0) lots more than a thousand!

Some of us just hasn't turned the light on yet!

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 12:13 AM

33. It's a great story, and reminds us that teachers

are so many times the first to help. We give away lunches, collect mittens and hats and snowpants and boots, we run food drives, we collect for families who have lost everything to a fire (we have done all these things in the last weeks)...

but yet here in Wisconsin, we are called 'thugs', the 'takers' I guess.

Good on you, DonRedwood, and all big hearted souls who help out at this time of year, and all year.

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Response to Lifelong Protester (Reply #33)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 10:41 AM

46. Yes, I too am a union thug

Nothing makes me madder than when I see the media or the republicans call teachers that. Stabbing the people who taught them, kept them safe and advocated for them in the back.

Shameful.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 12:17 AM

34. Humanity at its best!

Thank you for the tear. There's hope in the world yet.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 01:13 AM

35. A beautiful tale to hear.

Such deeds are the essence of our better nature, and you relating the story will inspire even more goodwill.

Peace, happiness and health to you.

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Response to HCE SuiGeneris (Reply #35)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 10:54 AM

47. That is my hope...to inspire more good will

I don't want credit or attention...I just want to move people off of their sofas to help.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 02:14 AM

41. Spam deleted by hlthe2b (MIR Team)

 

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 10:56 AM

48. We can create a new world together. I believe that...

Please see the latest Wishadoo-DU post.





http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021976358

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Response to OneGrassRoot (Reply #48)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 11:01 AM

49. I just added a note/link to my post.

My guess is this essay will be sitting on the front page until tonight. I hope it helps get that van fixed!!

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Response to DonRedwood (Reply #49)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 11:04 AM

50. ...



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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 12:32 PM

51. OK pass the Kleenex please!!!!

 

Thank you for sharing your story. It helps me put things into perspective and never forget how many blessings I have, vs. so many others...peace and blessings to you!

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Response to beachgirl2365 (Reply #51)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 05:36 PM

53. Welcome to DU!

And I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 07:17 PM

54. Call your local DHS. They know who needs help

You can adopt a family and their social workers can bring anything you donate.

Our small office did it one year.

Friends have done it as a family other years.

You can knit some mittens if you're poor yourself, or if you're better-off, you can do like my late boss did, and a whole dinner - buy a large turkey, stuffing mix, potatoes, beans, canned yams, and cranberry sauce -- as little or as much as you can handle.

DHS told us ages and sexes and sizes of the kids so we could buy appropriate clothes and toys, plus a little something for mom and dad. The social worker brought it all over to their house in order to give them privacy

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