He really wasn’t supposed to be here. We were open after our regular service hours for Thanksgiving registration and there was a new volunteer being trained to answer the telephone from 2p-4p on Tuesdays. The volunteer came to me and said, “We have a Hispanic gentleman in the waiting room that has no ID. We have tried to explain that he must have an ID to register for Thanksgiving, but I don’t think he understands. Can you help?”
After explaining to him in Spanish that he must have an ID to register for Thanksgiving, he replied, “I don’t want to register for Thanksgiving.” I asked what he needed. “A blanket”, he replied, “It’s going to be cold tonight.”
“Are you sleeping outside?” I asked him. “Yes,” came the reply, with a plaintive look on his face. I could have explained to him that MUST requires him to come during service hours, so he needed to come back the next day, show ID and go through the interview process in order to receive a blanket- but it was going to be 32 degrees that night. James 2:15-16 came to mind: “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” I told him to wait a moment and I would check the linen closet for a blanket or a sleeping bag.
In the linen closet were only 2 small, thin throw blankets. I thought about the extra sleeping bag I had at home and started back upstairs to tell him he could come back tomorrow to get it, although that would not do him any good on this cold night. As I walked up the ramp, I spotted a pile of bags full of donations in the clothing sorting area. I found the Operations Manager and asked, “I know it sounds crazy, but do you know if there are any sleeping bags in these donations?” She replied, “I don’t know, but what’s that there?” There was something rolled up in a plastic bag, either a sleeping bag or a comforter. I couldn’t tell which it was but I thought either would be of help to him, so I carried the big bag up to the waiting room.
As the client received it, he thanked me profusely, putting his hands together as if offering a prayer of thanks. I told him he could return the next day if he needed food and clothing and then he left. As I turned to tell the volunteers that all he wanted was a blanket, the new volunteer’s face lit up as she exclaimed, “I just brought that in today! My mother found out I was volunteering at MUST and cleaned out her closets so I could bring the items to donate.”
She did not answer many calls that afternoon so as she left she said, “I don’t really feel like I did that much today.” I replied, “I think you performed exactly the service that God intended for you today.”