Chicago is a eat or be eaten city. New York is hustle, bustle, get of the way or get run over. Hanover is a place where people you would think have had their lives destroyed when a factory was bought out by one of those huge conglomerates that snatch up factories and ship the jobs overseas or Mexico. To the contrary, after hundreds of people lost their jobs they didn't just lay down and cry about it. They turned to their closeness as a community. They are a village of volunteerism.
Today was food pantry day, which is held twice a month. I decided to volunteer believing that this was a good way to get to know residents and use up time since there isn't much to do around here. For the next two and a half hours, I experienced something I have never seen before in my life. I've lived in the great city of Chicago where there are soup kitchens and homeless people all over the place, but seeing the same people over and over that make no attempt to better themselves asking for handouts hardens the heart.
The people I saw today have worked hard all their lives. They raised families and are lifelong citizens of a town on the verge of becoming non-existent. There were elderly mothers, fathers, and young men in their 30s. Every one of the volunteers knew their names.
The volunteers were all senior citizens, except for me. One person was in obvious pain when bending down to pick up cans from the lower shelf. Another told me that she suffered from dizzy spells, and asked if I would mind switching from one station to another so she didn't have to turn as much. A very polite gentleman who said, "Have a blessed day" to each and every person coming in for help, was a former 5th-grade teacher for 35 years. One of his former students who was now 50+ years old came in they reminisced about how as a child he would from suffer nose bleeds.
Each person who came in was treated with the utmost respect. These are neighbors who were young, old, and in-between. An 80-year-old woman came in grumpy, but left smiling.
I was really surprised at the quality of the food. It wasn't chips and low-quality filler food. There was venison, beef, chicken, real baked goods, name brand soups, milk, eggs, and more. If a person didn't want the Jell-O mix, I gave them an extra something else. There was no skimping here.
Toward the end, the volunteers treated themselves to a donut. Even the ones patting themselves on the stomach and saying it would ruin their diet. I told them at 85 years old, they deserved it.
I'm looking forward to my next food pantry day. It was my honor to help these people. I am one of their family now, and part of the new generation to carry the torch of kindness.
Hanover IL Pop. 750: In the Beginning
Hanover IL Pop. 750: I Have Entered the Twilight Zone
Read More From My Cranium by David Herman