Strengthening Families. Building Communities. Reducing Poverty.

Mr. Harper Needed You

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The police office on duty last week asked me to speak with the person who was first on the food pantry line to convince him not to come so early the next time he visited us for help.  She gave me his name and I proceeded to the front of the line to catch him as people were guided into our offices at 7:00 a.m.  Mr. Harper wasn't on the front of the line as I expected.  He was in a motorized wheel chair being led into the office through a more handicapped accessible door.  I made an excuse for the shocked gasp that flew unexpectedly from my mouth when I met him.  It was a silly excuse - I was trying to catch my breath in the cold.  In 19 years of working b2ap3_thumbnail_Mr-Harper.jpgfor Catholic Charities agencies, I had never seen a frozen person before.  Mr. Harper, in his wheelchair, was covered in frost.  He had waited on our line so long that frost had formed on his hat, his hair, his face, his legs, his wheelchair.  Mr. Harper had waited in our line since 4:00 am to make sure that he received one of our food boxes.  Apparently, he had extra expenses with Christmas and large utility bills due to the cold so he especially needed the food that we offered.  We helped Mr. Harper into the office and filled him with hot coffee and a warm biscuit.  We sat him over our heating vent while we literally watched him thaw.  
Mr. Harper and the others at the beginning of the line listened as we promised we would not turn people away and in turn, asked them to promise that they wouldn't come so early.  As I walked away I thought about how desperate a person would have to be to stand outside long enough to freeze.  I thought about how the people who generously donated the food would never truly realize the impact they were making by their donation.  It's my hope that our experience with Mr. Harper will serve to remind all of us how people struggle due to the weather.  I know the next time my family is warm and cozy that I will remind them to say a prayer for all those who may be struggling to keep the frost off themselves and keep food on the table.  Please be assured that your donations of food make a difference - a big enough difference that it's worth frost.  Mr. Harper needed you and you were there.
By Diane Bullard, 
Piedmont Triad Regional Office Director
Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte © 2014