They have lived in Sevier County for nine years, long enough to birth three beautiful children who call Tennessee their home. This little family consists of: Mom, Dad, and three littles. Both parents work, and they now only have one vehicle, and no home.
I escorted them to through the makeshift grocery store, known to volunteers and the now-homeless as the “distribution center.” People are in shock, barely blinking, unable to remember what they really need, which is why I was partnered with this particular family, to remind them that they need toothpaste, toothbrushes, toilet paper.
They need everything.
Prior to my arrival a group of loving, kind, angelic people delivered a duffle bag full of essential oils, teas, and honey to my work. I was tasked with delivering these items and I worried about finding a home for these items, especially since I hadn’t a clue what type of duties I’d be assigned upon my arrival.
So I prayed. “God, show me who needs these items and bless those who receive them.”
It is perhaps unfortunate for this family that I have never met a stranger because instead of allowing the kids to tag behind as other volunteers did, I gave the oldest child (9 years old) a bag and made her the line leader.
“Whatever you want,” I said. “You get, times three.”
Her eyes got wide and she nodded.
Apple Juice in juice boxes (God bless whoever donated those, more are needed!)
The parents were quieter, lingering behind, but near enough where I could hear their conversation.
“Hard to cook even pasta when we don’t have a pot.”
We reached the cereal aisle (another item one never thinks to donate), the aisle was almost bare, except for oatmeal, the kind you must cook.
“I’d love some oatmeal,” the dad said.
He didn’t need to tell me why, didn’t need to tell me that wrapping your hands around a warm bowl of oatmeal makes everything better. if only for a moment.
So I placed a bag of oatmeal in the cart, and then another because when I’m your escort the buggy will be bulging.
Longingly he said to his wife, “You know what would be great, if we had some honey to go with the oatmeal. I’m really going to need my strength if I’m going to rebuild our home.”
You see they had just purchased the home they had been renting, hadn’t made even one year worth of payments before the fire. Their American Dream gone in a blink.
The middle child began to cough, a lung rattling type of hack that caused alarm bells to go off. Our next stop was the medical section where the area was piled high with eye drops, but running dangerously low on Tylenol. They didn’t have a single drop of Neosporin. The mom stopped at the window, inquired about cold medicine. There was none.
He coughed again and I knew at that moment who would receive some of the holistic medicine.
We rounded the end of the building and were instructed to pick up a a case of water and a gallon of milk on the way out. A grocery store had pulled everything nearing expiration and donated it. Perhaps not the best donation, but kids will eat cereal when they won’t eat anything else. I am in fervent prayer that someone delivers cases of bananas because fresh fruit is non-existent.
I left the family as they waited on the dad to return with their vehicle, left to retrieve the bag of holistic medicine. I allowed the mother to shop in the bag, explaining as best I could how Thieves Oil works, and insisting of course that they take the largest container of honey.
Then I introduced myself at the medicine station and explained the donation of holistic healing tinctures. The volunteers smiled and eagerly accepted. As I passed through with another family I observed one of the volunteers unwrapping a bottle and nodding. She knew, she knew the value of what had been donated, and I am confident she knew how to administer healing in addition to love.
With SPECIAL THANKS to those who donated the essential oils and Holistic teas and medicine.
Renea Winchester is an author, a gardener, and a giver of hugs. This month she is donating the proceeds from the sale of her short story– A Hardscrabble Christmas – to the Dollywood Foundation who has pledged to support those displaced by the #Chimney2Fires.