We worship in a food shelf. We help CES (“Community Emergency Services,” a ministry we founded in 1971) distribute tons every year to the poorest of the poor—folks so poor they need emergency food aid. Our neighbors know CES exists to serve in all kinds of emergencies.
That rep brought a young man to us on a late Sunday morning in March. He sat on the steps inside the main entrance. As the last bunch of Augustana worshippers made their way to the door, he stood up. But he didn’t look up. He rubbed the outside of his jeans, from hips to knees with arms too long for his pre-teen torso. He said, “Uh, my sister. She told me to come. We need pampers. Uh, for my niece. Do y’all have any, uh, pampers? Just a couple?” He was so nervous—like he was asking for tampons or something.
Augustana member Anne Carlson stepped up. She even might have put her arm around him (she’s good like that) and said, “You know, I think we might. How old is your niece?” “Uh, six months I guess.” She led us down stairs, found a box of just the right size diapers. “Oh, if you need those, you’ll need these too”—and gave him baby wipes to boot.
Our neighbors know they can come to us for food; that we will try to help in all kinds of emergencies. How else could a shy 12 year old boy find the courage to come out on a Sunday morning to ask for diapers?