“Some people are so poor… all they have is money.”
I pulled a box across the grass, staining the cardboard. Sunburned and exhausted, we were packing up and closing down what was left of the yard sale that began at 6:00 AM. Tea cups, bath towels, clothes, movies, miscellaneous this and thats.
I look up and see a family walking toward us. A man, woman and two little girls wearing T-shirts and pants that were torn. Their hair was disheveled, but they waved and smiled, and began rummaging through the boxes.
As I sat there chitchatting, I learned that the family had lost everything in a house fire not long ago. They did not have renters insurance, so nothing was replaced. The mother was on disability due to an injury, and the father was struggling to find work in this economy.
Source: Smashing Magazine
“We are trying to rebuild yard-sale item by yard-sale item,” the mother said folding bath towels. The young girls sat near by, petting my little dog. The mother wanted to buy her little daughters Disney movies (which I only had available in Video Cassette). She didn’t mind. She simply asked, “How much are these? My girls deserve to grow up with Disney movies.”
I hand the little girl one of my old blankets covered in ballet slippers. “This is for you.” She immediately wrapped it around her body, and wouldn’t let go of it. She walked around wrapped in a blanket. It was 90 degrees outside.
Suddenly, my mother comes over. She hears their story, and helps them sort through everything. She made them a deal: “You can have everything.”
Their eyes light up! I help them collect boxes, tape them shut, and carry boxes to their truck.
Then I see my mom walk over to their mother. She whispers, “Do you need food?”
The woman looks down, afraid to say yes but it was clear… that was the answer. She needed food.
My mother tells her, “Please, come inside. We have to be out of this house by Sunday because new renters are coming in. You would be doing us a favor.” (Note: My mother owns the house, and the “new renters” coming in are my little brother and his wife. She didn’t mention any of that.)
The woman stood there on the verge of tears. My mother helped her into our house. She shyly poked her head around the corner, peeking into the pantry.
“… are you sure?” She hesitated. “Are you really sure? I can’t take your food.”
My mother and I promised her she was helping us. We pulled two huge boxes over to her and said, “Fill them up.”
As she pulled from the shelf brand new boxes of cereal, pasta and canned goods, she kept whispering, “There is a God… there are angels… there is a God…”
She stopped when she reached the paper towels. “Do you mind… if I take some paper towels? My little girls haven’t had toilet paper in… awhile.” I helped her pack them all.
My mom came in to talk with the mother, so I scooted outside to find the girls. I had clothes, and I wanted them to have clothes for their first day of school. We sat around a box pulling shirts, pants, dresses, hair bows, belts. We laid out a sample outfit on the grass, switching out shirts/belts/shoes occasionally. I could feel their excitement for their first day.
Buy the Jeans here
After we had settled on the first-day look, I found my mom and their mom inside of the kitchen. The boxes were full of food, and she had a bag full of frozen food.
“Look!” The mother said to her little girl. “Chicken nuggets! Your favorite!” The little girl ran over to hug me.
As we helped the family pile boxes into their car, the mother pulled me aside and gave me the largest hug I’ve ever felt.
“Your mother… is a Saint,” she said. “I was so afraid to say we needed food. But your mom… she just asked and offered and I can’t tell you how much we need it.”
She told me she recently visited a church asking for help, but she was turned down due to the fact that she didn’t live in the correct zip code.
Our yard sale was a tremendous success. At the end of the day, we had $500, but that didn’t matter to any of us.
What we will never forget about today is that family. The eyes of parents trying their hardest for their little girls. The hugs of genuine thankfulness. The excitement of little girls who just got something “new.”
This is a family that is holding themselves together (yard-sale item by yard-sale item) through a very rough time.
We will never forget that family. They will be in our prayers every day.
Now… my house/pantry/refrigerator/closet are empty.
But my heart is full.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
As the school year quickly approaches, my mother and I (with the help of a very special donor) went out shopping for the little girls who will be facing an entirely new school with little to nothing.
We are sending them off into the new school year with:
2 pair of jeans and 2 shirts for each girl
1 pair of shoes for each girl
School supplies (markers, crayons, paper, notebooks, glue, pencils, highlighters, and a nifty pencil holder!)
We are hoping these items will help the girls transition into their new schools and community until it is called “home.”