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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Feeding stray children in the middle of the night

Last night--

The boys were hungry and wanted money to put in the laundromat junk food machines. No way.

A huge load of nasty towels have been waiting here, ready for me to transport them to the laundry. In the room where rain comes in, well, one of the rooms where rain comes in, I had put towels down. They dried on the line but needed to be washed. I HATE THE LAUNDROMAT!!!! After checking out the newer laundry, I got change at a gas station in case the changer did not work. When I came back, there was a crowd in the formerly deserted laundry--all young people. My nerves were on edge, and I had to keep telling myself they were not looking for trouble. I took my chances.

AT
TWO
AM

When I walked in, one of the boys called me by name. It turns out I had substituted for most of the 3 boys and five girls.

We talked. The girls told me tales of having a baby, being in Florida and the mother and three daughters riding with a trucker through eight states to get from Florida to Alabama and away from abuse, missing 28 days of school, turning in a Dad for snorting, mothers not getting child support, teachers leaving bruises....get the picture? And it is almost 2:00 A.M....that is morning, not afternoon.

As I gathered my towels to bring home and dry, the oldest boy, tallest boy, and the only black child came over and said, "Let me have a hug." Without reservation, I did. As he hugged me he asked for money. "What for." "Food." "Where?"He was going to buy food from the snack machines, said he was hungry and "staying" in a trailer with  the friend and no food and no adults and no money.

Rats, now what should I do? I hate these situations. Are they pulling my leg, just trying to get money for snacks? It is not my job to determine that! So, I pulled out two one-dollar bills. I rethought it and told him I would go get him something. So, all 8 teens were going to get in my car. Thankfully, my car was full of stuff and would not hold another person, much less eight more.

They asked if I were going to get them a hamburger. Hmmmm....the adult in me thought--Walmart seems like the place to get real food. (They told me they did not eat vegetables or much fruit.)  However, I decided to go home and get food from my house. I gathered what I had:

2 little 6-inch pizzas I had made (heated)
1/2 gallon milk
4 fresh eggs
Jiffy cornbread box mix
jello
instant pudding
peanut butter
instant oatmeal packets
8 disposable cups
dozen assorted plastic forks, knives, and spoons
1/2 gallon cherry/apple juice
can of fruit cocktail

Only the milk, eggs, jello, and pudding are something I will eat. The other is here for assorted reasons. The cups are about five years old and free when I got them.

All the vegetables I could have given them were left here. Maybe I should have taken a can of corn. Kids like corn. So do cats, and dogs, and chickens! Too late. Well, I tried to take things kids will eat, not what I think they should eat. It was mostly nutritious. I could have given them my grapes, but I had no bananas to offer.

The boys were so funny, and told me they could not cook when they saw what I brought. I assured them that the things I gave them could not be considered cooking. "Just read the directions." One said he did not know how to cook eggs. "Well, I am confident you can learn easily." He readily agreed with me. One of girls said she would teach him. Another guy said, "Don't we need butter to cook eggs? Did you bring butter?" Actually, I thought about it and forgot. I forgot the bread, too. And the jelly!

The boys looked really happy to get all I gave them and decided to leave with it immediately! No one looked disappointed. So, maybe they really needed food. I still have my money. I honestly think they went to eat.

I arrived home after 3 A.M. Why are seventh grade girls allowed to be out at this time of the night? The police came by while I was there and told them not to get into any trouble, twice!

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