Playing Santa Claus

I hesitate to post about this, but in the interest of using this blog as a journal, and because so many people have donated to the cause, I thought I should.

You may remember when I posted on this subject earlier. Sandra is a friend of mine who is so sweet and willing to help others whenever she can. She has many difficulties to deal with in her life, and in January witnessed the murder of her two neighbors. She is, of course, still recovering from the trauma of the experience. She heard screaming and yelled at the man with a knife to stop from her front door. He didn’t stop until he had wounded his estranged wife, and killed his mother-in-law. Sandra and her older son tried to help, but both women died, and the man drove himself to a bridge and jumped to his death.

After talking with Sandra about it on the phone, and knowing that she was not comfortable in her home because of the bad memories that keep returning, I tried to come up with a way to help her. I live too far away from her to drop in and check on things, so I’d have to help long distance. I talked with my mom about my concerns and she suggested we work together as a family to make her home a more pleasant place to be. In spite of her hard work at several jobs, she still struggles financially, and I thought changing her surroundings with some new things might help brighten her spirits.

My mom came across a great deal on frozen cinnamon rolls sold by the case, and we thought it would be great to use them as a fundraiser to get some nice things for Sandra’s home. It wasn’t hard for me to get my friends behind me and we sold more than two hundred cinnamon rolls. Erica and her boys also got in on the action and sold some at a yard sale and to their friends. Some of my local friends also gave me things for her grandson like toys and books, and even a living room rug was donated.

I arranged to meet Sandra for a visit at her home last Saturday. My parents were in town visiting for the week prior and they came with us to deliver the goodies. We drove to her house which is about an hour and a half away. I was nervous because I didn’t want to embarrass her or make her feel uncomfortable. I wanted her to feel that there were people who don’t even know her that care about her, and that her happiness is important to me as well. I wrote her a letter because I was not sure if I could convey what I wanted once I was there with her. She speaks primarily in Spanish, so I wrote a letter in English and used an online translator to change it to Spanish. Along with the letter I included $110.00 that was raised, but had not been spent. She was taken by surprise, and it was a little awkward because she just didn’t know what to say.

I told her about my friends and family that wanted to do something nice for her and she was so sweet saying over and over, “This is a happy day…. I am so happy.” The best part for me was when she asked me, “How did you know I needed these things?” I went for a light answer because I didn’t want to cry, and answered, “oh, I know everything.” But I also explained to her that I had thought a lot about what I could do for her, and shopped with a prayer in my heart so I would be led to the things that would be most appreciated. It was a wonderful visit, and Rob and I agreed that although it was a little awkward for her to receive these things and for us to give them, it was worth it. Knowing that as soon as we left the awkwardness was over, and she could be left to enjoy having some new things to make life more pleasant, and having the feeling that there are so many people out there hoping for her happiness. I think too often we don’t do service for others because we worry it will be awkward, but how much better it is to endure those awkward moments than let someone go unacknowledged.

I have pictures in the gallery of everything we brought to her and our visit. (Except for the rug, I think that one is on my Dad’s camera.) Thanks so much for your ideas, and for the donations I received from you all!!!

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Organizing My Food Supply

As you may have heard or noticed at the grocery store, the price of food is rising and it isn’t predicted to go back down any time soon. I decided it was finally time to take food storage seriously. Yes, my mother is the queen of this kind of emergency prep stuff, and I was still way behind. I blame it partly on moving around so often that I never wanted to get too much knowing that I would just have to move it all again.

I was trying to think of a place to store the food, because the garage gets pretty hot in the summer and my kitchen cabinet space is adequate for our family of six, but not to try to stuff in any extras. So of course I was discussing this with my mom on one of her visits here. We were sitting in the office at the time and she looked at the open closet that looked like this:

She suggested I move the storage boxes into the garage and I wondered why I hadn’t thought of that. So one day I took everything out, and looked in every box to make sure it was okay to store in the garage. There were some photo albums that I moved to my bedroom closet upstairs and a few things that I found I really wanted out where I could use them, not lost in the cardboard boxes. I then went to Sams Club and bought some cool shelves with bins, and then to Lowes to get a cabinet with doors for the garage. So now the office closet looks like this:

and the garage looks like this:

I’m working on getting paper products and nonperishables like soap, diapers, etc on these shelves. I also have our 72 hour kits on the top shelves so if we need to leave our home quickly we can grab and go.

It feels good to know that if the truckers go on strike or the inevitable big earthquake hits, my family will stay fed and clean, (even if we are living off of pasta and PB&J)… At least for a few weeks. I’m working my way up to three months eventually.

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