So Christmas in July went well. Much better than I could have imagined, actually. $255 dollars were donated (well $275 if you count the $20 that was given to us at a gas station).
If you are not sure what I am talking about, refer to my prior post. It explains it better.
So we gathered, all nine of us: Chelsea, Heather, Kelly, Nicole, Lauren, Johnathon, Kyle, Aaron and I. With our donations, and those we gathered. Much thanks to Kayleigh, Kelly, Jill and Andrew (if there were others, I am sorry) there was 255 dollars-which was way more than we expected.
Our first stop was Aldi's. Here we had two objectives: one to buy food for the Salvation Army, and the other, to bless a family by paying for their groceries. While most gathered groceries, Kelly and Chelsea went to bless a man by buying his groceries. Upon offering to pay for a gentleman's groceries, they were turned down and had a hundred dollar bill flashed at them. While that was discouraging, we kept on and payed for someone else's groceries.
Our next stop was the Salvation Army, to drop off the groceries we bought. They were very grateful for our donation, but we didn't stay long as they were serving dinner when we stopped. However, before we left, a guy with baggy pants and dread locks invited us to the church service across the road. He was great at speaking up and seemed like a very nice person. We explained to him what we were doing and declined politely.
Our next place to stop was Goodwill. We went inside with money in hand, prepared to help customers pay for their purchases. One customer politely declined. When we attempted to give the money to the cashier for the next person to check out with (people were shopping, but not checking out at the moment), we had to talk to the manager to make sure it was allowed. She said that while she had never seen this happen before, there were no rules against it. Thus we were able to leave the money and continue on our journey.
All this done, we had only spent 75 dollars of the money. We still wanted to buy someone dinner as well as fill up a few gas tanks.
The first gas station we visited had a few people filling up. The problem was that they all seemed to have really nice cars (and clothes, for that matter), and our goal was to help those who needed it most. So we went to what seemed to be the lower income area of town. There were plenty of cars that needed filled there. The first man we asked said he was only planning to put a couple of dollars into it. When told we would pay to fill it up entirely, he got defensive and would not allow us to put any more in. I wonder what he was thinking. From our point of view, we were trying to help, yet he did not allow us to help. I'm sure he didn't mean to, but he left us feeling a little defeated, as we could see he needed the help and wouldn't accept it. We were able to help a few other vehicles and there was a really shabby van that was parked out front, but didn't pull up to the tank. To say the van was shabby might be an understatement. It was rusting out and when the driver's side door was opened, the plastic part (that should be attached to the door) flapped in the wind. Wondering if maybe money was the issue, one of our group asked her if we could fill her tank for her. She was overjoyed responding that, "she had been running on fumes for days". If she was the only one we had an impact on-the entire night was worth it. We were unable to stay there for very long, because the cashier asked us to leave, saying we were soliciting and she was going to call the cops if we didn't leave. However untrue and outrageous that was (Chelsea kind of wanted them to call the cops, just to see what they would say) we complied and left.
We went to another gas station, and helped a few others there. While at that station, I asked one man if he needed any gas (he had been parked at the air compressor, but not at the gas tank). He said his tank was full, but asked why we were buying people gas. I told him what we were doing and a few minutes later, he pulled up to where we were standing (scouting out cars) and handed us a twenty dollar bill and asked us to use it in our cause. That was pretty amazing and totally unexpected!!
We then went to a couple restaurants, mostly fast food. We found it was easiest to catch the people as they went through the drive through, although it is amazing how skeptical people can be. We had quite a few people ask us why, and others seemed like they didn't know what to say at all. One man in Stake and Shake repeatedly asked us what his end of the deal was. Many paused for a long while before accepting the gift and muttered a thanks. It was almost like they were waiting for us to say it was all a trick. People just do not typically go around giving out free gas, meals or groceries-and it seemed to through the majority of the people we offered help to for a loop.
A few asked us to find someone who needed it greater than they, and we complied. These few were the only ones who really seemed like they understood what we were doing. These were the ones that didn't hesitate. They might have asked us what moved us to do this, but questioned more because they wanted to know than like it was incredulous that someone would buy their gas for the day.
I hope that at least one of the people we helped will be affected in a way much greater than having their costs waived for the day. I would like to think that maybe we have caused some of those people to think about why someone might give willingly to others. And maybe, if we are lucky, one of them might be inspired to help someone else. Overall, I would love it if we were able to give just one person a glimmer of hope that there is still good in this world, and that we can make it through.