Monday, November 30, 2009

Will Work For Food

OK, I know what you’re thinking – oh just another panhandler – some of them are out there at the same spot every day. Give them any money and they’ll just buy booze with it.  I have to admit that would normally be my first thought too.

I was driving along Spur 60, returning home from a trip to North Carolina a few Saturdays ago. Now if you’ve never been on Spur 60, it’s a four-lane road in North Carolina that turns into a two lane at the Georgia line…meandering through tiny little towns along the way. Tiny as in blink and you’ll miss them, way out in the country, rolling hills and lots of trees. Not a lot of traffic on Spur 60 – just a few cars now and then. Parked just off the roadway was a red truck with a man standing in front hanging his head and holding a sign that said “Will Work For Food”. My first thought was “That man must be crazy, he will never get any money on this road” followed by “Wait a minute, there has to be more to this story”. Something told me I had to turn around.

As I pulled into the tiny area next to his truck, he raised his head, looked at the pet sitting sign on the side of my truck and pointed to the sleepy looking white dog sitting in the cab of his truck. Then the story poured out like he could barely contain it. “Humbling, having to do this” R. said. “Two years ago my wife and I and our three kids were living in Stone Mountain and I was making $70K a year. I managed a construction team. Then the bottom dropped out, the company closed, and I couldn’t find another job. We lost everything. Luckily my aunt had a house up here across from hers that we could live in. But we haven’t had running water for two years because the well for the house ran dry the week after we moved in. One washer full of water – that’s all there was.” R. had disbelief in his voice, shook his head, and said “Only two years ago it was different.”

I mentioned that if he would give me his address and kids names, I’d try to do something for their Christmas and R. said, “Yeah, Christmas. They said they’d give them each a shirt and make sure they had a winter coat…but the kids…I’m so proud of my kids, do you want to see their pictures?” and took out his wallet. Beautiful kids – 14, 13, and 11. “See they used to wear uniforms to school” and pointed out their shirts and ties. “Sometimes when my kids look at me I wonder if their eyes are saying - is this all because of the recession or are you the cause?  You’re supposed to be the dad. Humbling,” said R. and hung his head again.

I had two hours to think about his story before I arrived home. Home to a house that had running water, home to where I had enough to feed my family and my dogs, a home that was mine. I wondered what I’d do if I lost everything, had no family to fall back on, only enough money to hang on with my fingernails. What if I didn’t have gas money to go look for a job? Jobs that were few and far between in the area. What if I had to choose between feeding my kids and having another well dug? That story played over and over in my head all the way home. And I have to tell you I didn’t come to any conclusions about what I’d do differently than R. has done.

If R.’s story has touched your heart and you would like to donate towards some help for his family before Christmas, I’d be glad to make sure his family gets the donation. I plan on sending some gift cards that can be used on gas, groceries, or clothing. If you don’t feel so moved, PLEASE find someone in your community that needs a lift, even if it’s just a smile and prayers.

For those of you who have asked about making a donation - my paypal is  Thanks to all of you who have been so generous both with your prayers and gifts.

Untie a ribbon in your life – you might find an adventure!


  1. Hiya Jill
    I am tickled to see you blogging and this is a doozy of a story. I will be sure and share this story with my online buds.
    BTW, you have mail.
    Blessings in abundance to you, yours and R.

  2. I know how people down on their luck can pull at one's heartstrings, especially when kdis and animals are concerned. They're not out asking for help because they want to. It's often because they've exhausted every other avenue. Count me in as one who will send a donation. Bless you for taking on this family and their furry companion. We can't forget him.

  3. I came over from Blondie's blog because she said we should. I can't do much for R's family, but I know there are families over here in my country that have been dealt life changing deals and need a ribbon untied too. We, as a family, are lucky to not have that worry in our lives. Sure we have problems, but like you, we have money to feed us and our dogs, water, power and clean clothing to wear. We try to contribute every year at this time but perhaps this year is the year to go the extra mile and try a little harder. I'm sure R and his family will have a brighter Christmas with your help. Welcome to the world of blogging.

  4. Hi Jill, I found your blog from Blondie:) What a touching story of reality. My friends at work decided this year we are going to adopt a family instead of giving each other gifts. We worked with our local CASA program and have two families we are focusing on. It feels good to help others. Blessings to you and nice to meet you. Jenna Louise

  5. Heart breaking, Jill! These folks who have fallen on hard times are everywhere now.

  6. OH Jill that is so sad to hear this man's story. Unfortunately there are so very many with similiar stories. I want to help even just a little. I know when each of us does a little it certainly adds up!
    You have a heart of gold. I can just see you stopping for this man.

  7. In the past, we bought for others in our area but haven't had a call back from the two charities, yet. I'd be happy to send some money. Let me know how. PayPal would be easiest, right? Do you have an account?

  8. Thanks for this humbling and touching post. This could be any one of us. I've been there, or darn near it. I have passed this along and will be in touch. Thanks for making a difference!

  9. Hi Jill,
    I'm happy to see you have a blog!
    What a sad story, but bless you for stopping! Situations can be so scary and we often don't know what to do!
    I'd be happy to make a small donation as well! If everyone gave the amount they spend on a starbucks coffee...this family could have a decent Christmas!

  10. Mary/Goldie - yes I do have paypal and it's I tried to email you directly but it wouldn't let me. Thanks!!!

  11. This is such a sad and tragic story that is sadly far to common around the world. I just can't imagine being in such a position.
    Bless you my friend, your big kind heart is shining through.

  12. Thank you for making the holiday season a little less bleak for this family. Any updates on them? You were their angel.

  13. Yes, I'd like to know how this family is doing too.


I'd love to hear what you think.