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He Shook My Hand and Repeated 5 Words Over & Over, “Thank you! Blessings! Bless You” Meet 3 of the Neighbors You Fed in One Day at a Loaves & Fishes Pantry

There is no one size fits all, no one age or situation that defines who is hungry in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. One Saturday a month, Loaves & Fishes’ Grants and Advocacy Coordinator, Shay Merritt, volunteers at our pantry at Eastern Hills Baptist Church.  Here Shay shares with us the stories of  just three of the families she talked with on a recent Saturday.

Anna M. is a widow in her late 70’s, retired from retail work.  Senior Nutrition referred her to Loaves & Fishes.  Anna struggles with painful arthritis that makes it difficult to walk or stand.  The only relief she gets is from a medicine that costs half of her monthly income.  Harriet, her 50-ish daughter, suffered a heart attack at the beginning of the year and can no longer work the 3 jobs that allowed her to help her mother out each month, so Harriet moved in with her mother.  Her disability  payments allow them to scrape by and most months they are able to afford Anna’s medicine, too.  It was a cold, rainy day when I checked them into a Loaves & Fishes pantry to shop for groceries, but Anna’s smile was all the sunshine needed to brighten the day. 

Anna’s smile was all the sunshine needed to brighten the day.

She sat and talked with me while Harriet was selecting their groceries.  She asked all about my life and wanted to hear all about my dog, my job, my hobbies.  When I asked Anna about her life, all she could talk about was her blessings—-how she could still take care of her affairs, just needed a little help getting around.  How glad she was to have her daughter living with her and the friendship they now shared as they both grew older and could laugh at the same things. How lucky she was to get a pantry appointment on a Saturday when a neighbor could bring her and Harriet to a pantry. 

Danielle came in to shop for her family of 6, including a 2-year-old and a 6-month-old.  Danielle’s husband took a fall at work.  He is going to be fine, but he is in a boot for 4 more weeks and cannot work for 2 weeks after that. 

He is in a boot for 4 more weeks and cannot work for 2 weeks after that.

His doctor referred them to Loaves & Fishes, and Danielle was excited she could get a referral to shop for groceries each  for the next 5 weeks until her husband was back at work.  I held the baby while she shopped, and the 2-year-old sat beside me and played with her mother’s phone. One of the benefits of volunteering at a pantry is “borrowing” the babies while the parent shops. 

Hamed brought his son Gee and a friend with him to the pantry.  His son’s school counselor referred them.  Hamed did not speak much English, so the friend was there to translate.  Hamed made it clear he was there for his son who needed good food to grow strong, not for himself. Gee talked with me while his father shopped. His mother had died before he and his father headed for the U.S. He told me they came to the U.S. in a very round about way through 3 or 4 countries, staying with relatives and friends along the way. He learned English through school and online.  Gee loves baseball and hopes very much to be able to stay here. He said his dad was a skilled carpenter but struggled to find a job because of the language barrier.  Hamed was actually smiling when he finished shopping. He was excited to have a tray of yogurt plus apples, oranges, grapes and plums.  He shook my hand and repeated 5 words over and over. ”Thank you! Blessings!  Bless you!”

He shook my hand and repeated 5 words over and over. “Thank you! Blessings!  Bless you!”

We served 15  other households that Saturday.  These were just the 3 families with whom I had time to talk.  All were excited and grateful to go home with much needed food; proof that the best kind of joy is when you are sharing good food with family and friends.