On the 4th of July, we worked our plan. Bethann and I made four loaves of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole wheat bread, for a total of 38 sandwiches. One of the Kaminsky’s delivered several loaves of bologna and beef bologna sandwiches to our house. Lydia brought over about a dozen hearty, veggie sandwiches on wonderful bread. I assembled on the kitchen table. Bethann assembled on the dining room table / desk. First we wrote on the lunch bag what type of sandwich was going in. Then it was a pint bottle of cold water, an orange, a hard boiled egg, a box of Cracker Jacks, or a snack cracker pack, and the sandwich! The bags had been decorated the night before by our granddaughters and Bethann when she was visiting them while their folks were out. As we finished a case of water, I would go down to Uncle John’s and get another case out of our freezer and bring it up. We packed 140 dinners.
We placed these into two large cardboard cases, one large Ikea bag, and several reusable grocery bags. We loaded these into the TKJ-mobile along with a folding luggage cart and bungie cords to carry the two large boxes. We also had a large bag of very ripe bananas. Uncle John, Steve and I, dashed down to the Lansdale train station. I parked in the taxi stand for a minute while we unloaded all the boxes and bags. Then I parked the car and ran back up to the station. Good thing Steve was along. He recruited some of the young people to help us carry all these bags onto the train. We had to run down to the far end to find space and split up. Four young people helped carry on bags. I ended up sitting in those benches that face each other right by the door. The kids came in the door, dropped the bags and then went into the next car to find seats. I was nearly buried with packed dinners. John and Steve were in the next car. And we started our hour long, crowded, noisy train ride into center city.
Now, at the same time we were doing this from the northwest, in Souderton, the McGraws had been working on preparing and transporting 30 dinners from Glenmoore to the southwest of the city. The train that Philip and Esther were to catch was cancelled. So they caught the next one, a half hour later. It was so crowded, no one bothered to collect fares. They phoned me while I was on the train to tell me they were going to be late. No worries.
Now we had to recruit crew to help us off the train when we got to Suburban Station. There was no way humanly possible to get all of these bags off in the allotted time. I was at the front of the car, facing backwards, and wearing my sunglasses, so my task was easy. There was a group of young adults heading down to the festivities, crowded into the seats in front of me. I asked them if they could help me unload. One of the girls said she couldn’t, but the guys would be glad to. They asked me what I was doing. I shared the history of the ministry and how we had sued the city and that I had been serving on the street each week since 1989. One of the men who had been volunteered said, “Wow! That’s when I was born!” They helped us off the train and some others helped John and Steve off their car. Some of them offered to help us carry it to where we were going. We thanked them and assured them that we had it covered from there.
Anthony and Gregory met us at the train and the five of us hauled the 170 dinners through the crowds to the Galusha Pennypacker statue at Logan Circle four and a half blocks away. It was about 6pm. Anthony and Greg handed out the meals. I hung out and talked with people. John and Steve sat on the shady side of the base of the statue and did what they do every night, “plot to take over the world!” About a half hour later Esther, Philip and Irene showed up with the remaining meals.
Our regular customers were so amazed to see us. They asked us where we parked. There was no parking in the whole area. So we told them we took the train. Then they were truly amazed and grateful. Alex saw a Chinese lady who was suffering from the heat and needed water so was trying to offer her some of our free food and water. She would not accept it for free, but it was obvious she needed it. She was selling these little trinkets, so she gave him a couple of those in exchange. Everyone was happy!
We gave away the food. Then we took the train back toward home and drove the rest of the way. We saw some fireworks as we were arriving home. It was an exhausting day. It was an intense day. This was the first time I have ever been in Philadelphia on the 4th of July and I didn’t even stay for the fireworks. I still don’t know of a better way to do the 4th of July.
Thank you to all who helped and participated to make it possible. It would not have been doable, had it not been for the Almsgiving Flash Cash Mob on Facebook the weekend before, since the water and the bags and the snacks and the trainfare and the sandwich ingredients were more than we usually spend, and we were down to nothing. God bless you all!