Friday, January 30, 2009

Fried Chicken for the Homeless

Last night Rob and I had a date night. Well, sort of. We went to a hockey game. The tickets were freebies from a business associate. And Sparky tagged along. But we did sit in the fancy shmancy corporate box seats.

It's funny how differently the ticket takers treat you when they see you have the hoity toity corporate box tickets.

As we were leaving, one of the corporate execs, upon hearing we have seven children, offered all of the leftover food to us. (They have all kinds of free catered food in the chi chi corporate box seats.) She loaded us up with boxes of leftover fried chicken, french fries, and chili dogs. All I could think was, "Yeah, lunch for a week!"

As we walked out of the stadium, I remembered the 3 or 4 homeless people we passed on the way in. It's hard not to see them in downtown Detroit. We had nothing to offer them on the way in. Yeah, we had the rich man tickets but zero cash. (Though I think fast food gift cards are the way to go when coming across panhandlers.)

It wasn't a minute or two when a gentleman shook his can and asked for spare change. I told him, "I don't have any money but I have leftovers. Would you like that?" His face lit up as he took one of the boxes from my hands.

As we rounded the corner we heard him shouting, "Woohoo! Fried chicken! Fried chicken! God bless you! God bless you! Yeah! Fried chicken!" We laughed so hard and smiled so big, the three of us began to keep our eyes open for others stuck out in the cold. We managed to give away all the food as we walked to our car a few blocks away.

I don't think Sparky will ever forget last night. Not because he's a hockey fanatic and got to see a great game from the best seats in the house but because he got to experience the real joy of giving. I don't think Rob and I will forget it either.


Michael B. said...

My wife and I have did this before kids. After our rare dinner dates in Chicago, we would sometimes have to-go bags of leftovers (and not a half-eaten, picked-over entree, but parts that had been separated from the rest of the meal when it was first served). If my wife ever spotted someone homeless, she would immediately drag me over and offer it to them (she's much more in tune with the poor and homeless and giving than I am, to her credit).

I was always reminded of the parable, "whatever you do for the least of my brethern..." when she did this. I'm glad your son was able to witness this act. In these troubled economic times, there will certainly be many opportunities for giving.

Renee said...

What a wonderful gift you provided to those folks.
Maybe someone should suggest that to the execs?? Just like Panera Bread gives away all their leftovers each evening to charities.

Maureen said...

Renee, it's so funny you say that. One of my teens work at Panera's so we talked about that this morning at breakfast.

Rob, as we got into the car said, laughing, "I think you found your new ministry." He thinks I should go around all the corporate boxes after games and ask for their leftover food.

I don't think you could give it away like Panera's because it was in a container already picked from. I think restaurants and shelters have strict guidelines about that stuff.

But . . . maybe . . . if we did it casually (and quietly) we could get away with it.

Or, better yet, encourage the box seat ticket holders themselves to take their leftovers with them and roam the streets of Detroit looking for the hungry . . . Hey, it could happen!

And I don't know if I'll ever get a chance to sit in the hoity toity seats again. That may have been a once-in-a-lifetime event.

But maybe if I made a phone call or two . . .

What can you all do?

Maureen said...

Michael, God bless your wife! Would her name be Nancy? Sounds like something my friend Nancy B. would do.

Esther said...

God bless you Maureen, and your beautiful family for doing that.

Amy said...

I like the idea of gift cards; I might try that.

We rarely carry cash, so I often don't have anything on hand to give to the poor who ask. My general rule of thumb is to ask if they'd like something to eat. I'll go get them whatever they want if they're hungry.

Once, I had no money and was on my way to an appointment, so I gave a woman a pair of gloves because she was out in the bitter cold (it's all I had).

If they come to my church, I direct them to the Cathedral's food pantry because sometimes it's disruptive can start bothering parishioners during Mass and what our priests asked us to do.

I try to give something, anything, and usually offer to buy food.

Michael B. said...

No, my wife's name is Linda, but that is the kind of woman she is. I've been fortunate enough to enjoy a hoity-toity box for a game before (donation to the non-profit I worked for), but we had to order and pay for our own food. After looking at the catering charges, we ended up at the concession stand with our fellow little people. From the dish descriptions, however, I'm sure I would enjoy such a feast if I ever had the chance.

Theocoid said...

Fried chicken and barbeque beans is a good combo. Occasionally, I'll get a three-pack of hoagies if it looks like the person is carrying a backpack and can store something for later. I've also gotten into the habit of keeping a box of New Testaments in my van, which I give away to those who don't have one. I've only had maybe one or two people turn them down. Most often, they're quite grateful for a bible. Frequently, they already own a few. I will sometimes give a little ash if its cold so they can go buy a cup of coffee and warm up. You have to be prudent when to do that, though.

Margaret Catherine said...

I would suggest buying food directly (if possible) instead of giving fast-food gift cards - those very probably have street value. At the shelter I help at, they only distribute generic-brand canned goods - not only because national brands cost more, but because there's a street trade for even those.

John C. Hathaway said...

What a wonderful witness!
I've learned in life that if I don't stop to help someone in need, bad things happen, and when I go out of my way to help someone, great things happen.

The main exception is when, say, I see someone when I'm getting on an Interstate exit, and I really don't know a practical way back, and the person may not be there.

John C. Hathaway said...

Sorry to double-post, but i thought of something else.

I call what happened to you "plundering the Egyptians." In Exodus, the day before Passover, God tells the Israelites to plunder the Egyptians. He says, "They're scared of you. Go ask your neighbors to borrow some money, and they'll give you all their money and gold."

We frequently have experiences where people "feel sorry for us" *or express deep admiration* for having 4 young children, and just shower us with stuff. Random acquaintancse give us their kids' cast-off clothes. We usually get the leftovers at church functions. There have been a couple times when restaurants have given us free meals.

Rachel Gray said...

Great fried chicken story!

Mother Teresa used to fly free on the airlines and also get her flight to donate its leftover airplane meals to the poor. :)

Sometimes when I've given cash to poor folks who asked for it, I saw with my own eyes that they weren't spending it the way they'd claimed. It's too bad. I've sometimes given a dollar even though I think it'll be badly spent, just because I want to give some kindness. That might not be the truest way to show compassion, though. Other times I awkwardly say no.

A lot of people beg at my parish (which is in a poor neighborhood), and we're supposed to tell them that the priests have asked us not to give money, but to direct them to one of the priests, who often know the people and can determine how best to help. They do give extensive help to those who make good use of it.

chrysd said...

That must have been God. He wanted those people to have it and made sure the right people would get the leftovers in the first place.

BTW, Detroit is my hometown. My sister and I are from the west side and our brothers are from the east side. If any city needs praying for, it is near the top of the list.