13 Jan Real Help for Real Living: Miracle on West 1st Street
You’ve probably seen the movie, “Miracle on 34th Street.” Let me tell you about the miracle on West 1st Street.
I had scheduled to begin planning our Thanksgiving Food box outreach campaign in mid-July. However, the day of the meeting, my assistant went out on sick leave. In fact, between her absence and my schedule, we didn’t see each other for 12 weeks. When we finally got together, it was the first full week in September. We were down to crunch time. We contacted our food box partners from 2015 and received commitments for 315 food boxes. We needed to reach at least 500 boxes and so issued a press release. Suddenly, we reached 500 food boxes, then 600, and 900. Would we cross the 1,000 mark? We did, and then some. The number of generous partners continued to grow and grow. One thousand became a distant memory as we exceeded 1,300, and then 1,500. We ended up with over 1,600 food boxes committed to our Thanksgiving Food box outreach campaign. But, we had one problem.
We didn’t have 1,600 turkeys. We asked our food box partners to donate the dry goods but not the turkey. We said we would provide it. Last year we collected 600 birds. Would we have 1,600 food boxes and only 600 turkeys? Where would the extra ones come from?
We had two community partners who donated a total of 300 turkeys. We asked another group to donate 500. We were still 800 turkeys short. We needed to have all 1,600 turkeys by the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Distribution was scheduled for the Monday and Tuesday before the holiday. My assistant kept asking me what we would do if we didn’t have all the turkeys we needed. I confidently said, “They’ll be here.” In truth, I had no idea where they were going to come from. I tried a media stunt but it didn’t work. I asked a turkey company if I could purchase turkeys from them; they turned down me down. I had no place to turn.
I’m wasn’t sure what was happening but the turkeys started to come in. Friends on Facebook realized our need and began to challenge their friends to donate. We reached out to our food box partners and told them our dilemma. We asked them to consider donating a turkey along with the dry goods. So many of them said, “Yes.” The days the food boxes arrived, we saw hundreds of turkeys coming through our door.
There was a point where we lost count of the number of turkeys that were being donated. They were coming in so fast, we couldn’t keep up counting them. We stored them in a commercial freezer truck that was loaned to us.
Monday and Tuesday were distribution days. The first half of the food boxes were distributed on Monday; the second half were distributed on Tuesday. Each day, we took out of the freezer the number of turkeys we needed to deliver that day. At no time did we ever run out of turkeys.
It reminded me of the story of the feeding of the 5,000. Jesus took the bread and fish, gave thanks for it and blessed it. He gave it to his disciples and they distributed it. What started with a few pieces of fish and bread fed 5,000 people.
What happened was this; God showed up. There was no human way we could come up with 800 additional turkeys. Let me encourage you in this new year to see the way that God shows up in your life as well.