My brother spent last Sunday afternoon collecting donations outside of Safeway for his high school’s holiday canned food drive. I too was an active participant in the drive when I attended, and I still contribute in donations, as much as I can.
For such affluent shoppers, it always surprised me how slowly the cans accumulated. Many shoppers went out of their way to avoid and ignore us. Some went so far as to feign phone calls. But typically, as soon as the first cans have been planted, donations gain momentum, which always baffles me because wouldn’t an empty cart compel you more? Isn’t there more urgency in emptiness? Personally, I’d rather leave a dollar in an empty tip jar than a full one, because it makes more of a difference to someone who has nothing. But nonetheless, in my experience, this pattern has persisted year to year, with one exception.
It was my Junior year in high school, and a particularly slow shift at the Middle Ave Safeway in Menlo Park. Not for lack of shopping traffic, though. But our donation cart remained empty well into the first hour of our shift outside the automatic doors. And just as I was about to give up all hope in humanity, a woman exiting wheeled her cart toward us. She removed a single shopping bag, presumably to leave as our first donation of the night, but this woman flipped the script and kept only the bag. Instead she offered us the cart, fully loaded with non-perishable nourishment for families who need it.
So this is just to espress my thanks to this mystery woman, my hero, whoever she is, bless her generous heart. And to my brother, and Ben Jammin’, and everyone contributing their cans, and their hands and their time.