Benton First UMC Blog

Helping Hands Food Pantry

As I write this, the stock market is in its third day of a
big “tumble.” I know it is bad because I have received an email
from my investment banker telling me “not to worry, that it
will correct itself.” If it is bad enough for him to send an explanation,
then I know it is time to worry. So I did worry a little,
for a few minutes. I felt uneasy, then said, “I can’t do anything
about the stock market,” and went on about my daily business.
I don’t like that uncomfortable feeling of unease about
our finances. I don’t like to owe money for anything to anyone.
I don’t like to feel overwhelmed about upcoming expenses.
It makes me feel extremely uncomfortable and I have
anxiety about it. I think it might be just my generation, the
Boomers.

It really makes me wonder, how the clients at Helping
Hands endure their daily lives. They don’t know where their
next meal is coming from, or how they will pay their utilities, or
how to keep a roof over their heads. For many of them, this
circle of poverty is all that they have ever known. We tend to
continue to do what we have been taught and what we know.
My parents worked hard all of their lives and instilled in
me a strong work ethic. In my early teens, I went to work at
Dan Draffen’s grocery store. Those of you who are over 60
will remember the grocery. It was tiny where the selection of
cereal consisted of Corn Flakes or Rice Krispies, ice cream was
chocolate or vanilla, and bread was white. We wrote down what
the customer bought and they said “charge it.” Sometimes people
paid with cash, but rarely.

There were two little boys about three or four who
roamed the neighborhood all summer. They were unkempt to
say the least. No shirts, always barefoot, dirty hands and faces
and their hair long and messy. No one seemed to pay any attention
to them. Each day, they would come into the store and
Dan would give them a sandwich and a carton of milk, and tell
them to run along. They would be back by late afternoon for a
cookie or popsicle. They were sweet and had the biggest blue
eyes I had ever seen.

Years later, I met up with the boys when I became a
teacher. My first assignment as a teacher was back at my old
high school. I was teaching classes called Vocational Disadvantaged
Education. What that meant was the student didn't qualify
for special education, he/she was poor, and there was no
way he was going to pass in the regular class room. I didn’t
recognize the boys’ names but I had seen those eyes before. It
didn’t take long to make the connection. They were better
groomed, cleaner, hair combed but poorly dressed.
They tried but they were just too far behind to catch
up, and there was not help at home. One day, the younger of
the two came to me at school and told me that his brother had
brought a hunting knife to school. He was afraid that, if discovered,
his brother would get in trouble. This being the seventies,
indeed he would get in trouble. However, he would not
have been hauled to jail as a terrorist as he would have today.
We were able to get this worked out, thanks to an understanding
principal.

Last month, as we prepared for Helping Hands, I
looked out into our crowd and saw those blue eyes looking at
me. No longer a little boy, no longer a teenager, he is a broken,
disabled man. He walks with a limp. He is so much younger
than I am, yet he looks much older. He lives in public housing,
perhaps the best place he has ever lived. So I ask myself,
when did he ever have a chance to get out of the circle of poverty?
When did he ever know a life different from the one he
has? It makes me feel like a failure as a citizen, teacher, Christian.
How do we end it?

Jesus wants us to keep on trying even when we fail. So
despite our failure, we will continue our Helping Hand mission.
We ask you to please continue to help us also. On Sunday,
September 13, Becky Cromwell will lead Helping Hands on our
mission work.

Please join us in prayer, volunteer work and donations.
We are thrilled to have Brother David joining us on
Tuesdays at the food pantry.

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