3: Room for a Turkey

3: Room for a Turkey

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Random Acts of Kindness

Room for a Turkey

Genuine kindness is no ordinary act, but a gift of rare beauty.

~Sylvia Rossetti

I was brushing my teeth getting ready for bed when the phone rang. This cannot be good, I thought as I hurried to see why I was summoned so late at night. My mind quickly ran through the list of family members that might need my help, but the voice on the other end of the line was only vaguely familiar.

“Lindy, this is Leslie,” she said. “I hope I didn’t catch you sleeping.”

I didn’t know Leslie very well, so I was a bit dumbfounded that she would be calling me at eleven o’clock at night. We had children of similar ages and occasionally spoke with each other at various community events, but to say we were friends was a stretch. I assured her that I was still up and asked what she needed. I was afraid it might be something really dire to cause her to reach out to someone she barely knew. Instead, she asked me a most peculiar question.

“Do you have room for a turkey in your freezer?” she asked.

We had lots of room in our freezer. In fact, we had too much room. My husband’s business had taken a downturn and we were pretty much at the bottom of our food supply.

“Sure,” I responded, “Did your freezer break down?”

“Not exactly,” Leslie replied, “but if you will give me directions to your house I will explain when I get there.”

This was certainly odd. I told my husband that Leslie was coming over and needed to use our freezer. “Our freezer? Now?” Tom asked. “We hardly know her.” I didn’t have an explanation for him, so I just shrugged my shoulders.

We quickly changed back into blue jeans from our nightclothes and scurried to meet her outside so the doorbell would not wake our four children.

Pulling up the driveway was a huge freezer truck. Leslie stepped down from the passenger side and explained that her husband serviced a small grocery store that had just lost its lease. They had to empty all the freezers before midnight that night. Leslie and her husband thought it was a shame to just throw all this good food into a Dumpster so she began to go through her list of contacts, dropping off food to anyone she could think of who might be willing to take it.

When she put the turkey in our freezer Leslie noticed that it was pretty empty. “Is it okay if we just fill this up?” she asked. “We have a few more turkeys and some other items.” Ours was the last place they planned to stop and anything left would have to be discarded.

While Leslie’s husband was bringing in a load of food he noticed a smaller freezer that we also had in the garage. “If that works,” he said, pointing to the freezer we had planned to donate, “plug it in and we can fill that, too!”

The four of us walked back and forth between the truck and our freezers carrying armloads of frozen foods. In less than an hour we had filled both freezers in the garage and even the small freezer space in our refrigerator inside the house!

Still not fully understanding what had just occurred, I asked her, “When will you be coming back for all this?”

Leslie just laughed. She rearranged the blocks of food for extra space and wedged one last Butterball in place. Then she shut the freezer door and wiped the frost from her hands. When she turned to face me she replied, “We don’t want it back. It is yours to eat, to share, to enjoy! We have been delivering food since 5:00 p.m. and have exhausted our list of contacts. That’s the end of it! Thanks for helping us out.” Then she and her husband climbed back into their truck, waved goodbye and backed down the driveway.

“For helping them out?” I said out loud. Tom and I watched them drive away and then just looked at one another. What had just happened didn’t seem real. Even though it was midnight, we were compelled to go back into the garage and look in the freezers. We opened one freezer door and counted four big frozen turkeys. In the other freezer there were three more. Stacked around them were pizzas and freezer meals, vegetables and desserts. These were the expensive, convenient foods that we never bought but often longed to try. Our freezers were so full there was no space left, not even for an ice cream bar!

Leslie had no idea that we were in such a tight financial spot that we struggled to buy groceries. It was not something that Tom or I shared with anyone. My eyes filled with tears because I knew that God had heard the concerns of my heart and was meeting our needs in a miraculous, surprising way. Having plenty of food for my family was a huge stress reliever during a difficult time.

Over the next several months we ate well and shared turkey with friends, family and neighbors. By the time the freezer food finally ran out we were back on our feet. Our income had surged and buying groceries was no longer a problem. We blessed someone else with our now empty extra freezer.

I admit that I still startle at late night calls, assuming the worst, but then I remember that summer night when an acquaintance called. She had a smile in her voice when she asked, “Do you have room for a turkey?”

~Lindy Schneider

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