Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Free bread, not even from dumpsters!

My boss and I found a new thrift store in Herndon, VA today and it was P-A-C-K-E-D like it was black Friday at Wal-Mart or something! I think the poor economy has many people looking to thrift stores for holiday shopping and this is great for a number of reasons:

• I got LOTS of great presents for under $20 (and you will just have to wait and find out!)
• Stuff ends up getting a second life instead of going to the landfill
• You are supporting a local business
• The proceeds benefit people who can’t even afford to shop at thrift stores
• It is run by volunteers which fosters a strong sense of community

By the checkouts they have baskets full of delicious Trader Joe’s bread that has a sell-by date of today. There stands a sign that says “Free bread is for you, not the birds!). I got a loaf of Ezekiel bread* (my fave), sourdough, and fiber muffins.

This gift of bread reminded me of Russell Benedict.

I doubt that Annie remembers him but he was her Dad’s best friend and an early champion of dumpster diving. He used to go to grocery stores and fish baked goods and other palatable food from the dumpsters to give to the poor (like us!). I remember him giving Annie and me boxes of Little Debbie cakes and hostess pocket pies (not his most nutritious finds) and telling me that I shouldn’t stand on the dog’s tail because even though he almost knocked me over when he wagged it, it can’t feel very nice to have someone stand on it.

Sometimes Russell would get in trouble with the stores for taking from the dumpsters.

In his wallet he always kept a worn out letter, supposedly from Mother Theresa, commending him for his work to feed the poor. Whenever a store manager would hassle him he would whip out that letter and they’d go “Oh, sorry! Here, take whatever you want!” With that the food started to bypass the dumpster and he built a network that got lots of people fed.

We all can benefit from the value of free bread, even if we can afford to buy it ourselves.

It is ennobling to be on both the giving and receiving ends charity.

*(Side tangent: Apparently Ezekiel bread is missing a special ingredient that would make it authentic "....and thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man, in their sight. And the LORD said, Even thus shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, whither I will drive them." (Ezekiel 4:12-13))

1 comment:

Gordon said...

I am certainly glad your Ezekiel bread is lacking the essential aroma from burning ****.

I remember Russell Benedict and his letter from Mother Theresa. That letter worked wonders.