The first day we took the Wafflemobile out, somebody said “You need a tip jar!”
Oops…I thought we had everything covered, but I never thought of that one. As one of the boys got a coffee cup and started writing “tips” on the side, I thought about just how lucky, advantaged, blessed…whatever descriptor you want to use for it, we are.
“Do we need to keep the tips?” I asked my kids. They made a face like “of course not”, shrugged, and we all agreed that we would find a local charity to give ALL tips to from then on out.
One requirement is that it has to be so local, that the money stays right here in Kansas City. Another is that it has such low administrative costs that the donation is going mostly to the people who need it.
As we were chatting about it, I thought of the Lloyd Siebert Food Pantry, started more than 40 years ago by, well, Lloyd Siebert. It wasn’t called that when he ran it. They changed the name after his death in his honor. He was a great man. He was like a third grandfather to me. He gave very generously, with his heart, and asked for nothing in return.
I remember a time riding with him in his car, which really was taking death by the horns, as he was a horrible driver, and something popped up that angered him a bit. I don’t remember if it was something said about someone living in a mansion, or driving an expensive car, but the point is what he said in response: “People don’t have a RIGHT to live like that, as long as there are hungry people in the world.” And he lived that life.
I see a lot of memes floating around about how these poor are “entitled” or should just “work harder”. I am not going to get political here…I simply challenge anyone who feels that way to donate a few hours and serve a meal at the Central Ave Center of Hope where I was yesterday. They are the home of the Lloyd Siebert Food Pantry now and serve meals five days a week, along with many other services to the disadvantaged.
If you serve a meal there, you will see a few things…
People are served without judgement
It’s easy to look at the way someone is dressed and think “they don’t need a free meal”, but who really knows what someone is going through. They might only have enough money for gas money to start a new job, nice clothes from the thrift shop, but not enough for lunch.
There are people there who obviously are in need. Yesterday I saw adults with learning disabilities, but are able to live alone. Some had children, who wouldn’t have eaten lunch without the Center. I saw older adults in the community and it’s obvious their Social Security isn’t enough. I saw some whom you might call “people of the street.” They get hungry, too…and who knows WHY they are in that position. I’m just glad I’m not.
But in the end, remember this is not a fancy meal. The Center does the best it can with the resources and donations given. They cook their own food and sometimes it’s not fancy. So if someone is there to have overcooked meatloaf leftovers, stale corn chips and a kook-aid, they probably don’t have $3 in their pockets for a couple of QuikTrip hot dogs.
The people appreciate the meal
I know I would be a bit embarrassed if I had put myself in a position where I needed to stand in line at a Food Pantry for a free meal. It’s just the way I am. I think most people would be. These people seem to truly appreciate not just a free meal, but a welcoming group of volunteers who are kind and empathetic.
In talking with all the volunteers, my father and step mother among them, they are all there because they really do care and want to do what they can to help.
And as people finish their meals and trickle out, most will come up and give a genuine “thank you so much”.
There is Free Stuff for them to take home
Volunteers at the Center work hard to locate food for those in need to take home. My dad and Lois go out twice a week to Panera and get the bread at the end of the day. They have to be there AT 9:00 pm, sign a waiver, then take the bread the next morning to the Center for anyone who needs bread. “Limit One Per Day,” the sign reads.
But yesterday there wasn’t just bread from Panera. There was bread donated from local grocers, bags of salad, donuts and other foods that were about to expire and donated.
There is also a Thrift Shop where one day a week locals are allowed to come take clothing for FREE.
They have shower facilities for people who might be living on the street, or just can’t afford the water bill at home. No questions.
We can do more…and we will
Tomorrow is the first month anniversary of The Waffler being on the street. I’m not out every day, and we’re still building a following, but I’m proud to announce that in that month, the “tip” jar brought in $489.70.
Thanks so much to all who gave freely to this cause.
The Lloyd Siebert Food Pantry is important to me, and we’ll target it again in the future. In our second month on the road, we’ll be donating the “tips” to a different local group.