God’s Helping Hands

12 Jan

A Few Thoughts

Patricia Franklin

It’s a frigid December day, a week before Christmas. People are lined up outside and we’re getting ready to open the crisis center. Every time I come there are more people to serve, and the board has had to introduce strict, new rules. I see 12 large colorful grocery bags in the back of the room, filled with age-appropriate toys. Our leader explains, “These are for needy families who have no toys. They were given to us by a woman and her family who recently lost her father, and around the same time, a new baby.”

A worker unlocks the door and people file in. We begin the process of finding their files and sending them down the line so we can help fill their basic needs. I work quickly, but then an elderly man stops to chat, and I pause to listen.

Homeless man“See how they fixed me up at the hospital.” He lifts his dirty, ragged shirt and shows me a long, clean bandage across his chest. “I have these other scars, too.” And he shows them to me. “Those doctors and nurses saved my life,” he says. He walks away with a smile on his face. He was already experiencing a great Christmas and his gratitude was deep and real. Yes!

Another man stops and says, “I was here not too long ago, but now I need socks.”

“You can only come in once a month.” I say, as I look at my partner to confirm.

“I’m getting him some socks,” she answers quickly and quietly, Even though we do not work in the clothing area, she stops her routine and goes to there. When she comes back, she surreptitiously hands him a small bag. Later, a woman comes in with a donation: a large trash bag filled with….socks. Yes!

A woman asks me for size 12 shoes for her husband. “They didn’t have any last time I was here,” she said. The clothing worker tells me to go look on the shoe rack. I look for what seems like a long time. Suddenly I spot a large pair of good black shoes on the top rack. I stand on tiptoe to bring them down and sure enough, they are marked size 12. Yes!

My feet hurt, but I have no time to sit down. A young man comes up and with his head lowered so that I can hardly hear him, “I’ve never been here before.” I ask for ID and proof that he lives in our county. This doesn’t happen to be one of the centers for the homeless and these proofs are mandatory. He has ID, but no proof of address. I go to the computer lady. “He is not in the system, we cannot help him till he brings proof.”

“But Ma’am this is kind of an emergency,” he whispers to me. “My wife just left me with the kids and I don’t have anything for them.”

“Let me ask my supervisor,” I say.

“He needs to show proof,” she sighs, and I suppose she is tired too. I hesitate to go back and tell the man we can’t help him, so I wait a moment hoping she’ll come up with a solution. To give her time I go back to the counter, but I hear her say loudly, “You have to have proof.” I am disappointed, but she walks past me and whispers, “Go ahead and send him through.” Yes!

I can’t stop thinking about him, however. I’m afraid he’ll be rushed through without getting everything he needs. I sneak back to the interview station and see him with a new interviewer. I won’t interrupt, but before I walk away I hear her say: “And what about Christmas, do you have any toys for the kids?” Later, I see him walk by with a big grocery sack full of Christmas toys, headed for the clothing room. I know his next stop will be the food station and they’ll take good care of him there. Yes!

We are busy at the crisis center on this day, in the week before Christmas, but I love to be here because we see so many good people helping others and so many God-incidents to thrill and surprise us.


One Response to “God’s Helping Hands”

  1. Old Things R New January 12, 2016 at 4:16 pm #

    I loved this story, Patricia. Just today our local news carred a story about people needing blankets and coats. Thank you for sharing God’s love in a practical manner.


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