By Tony Marciano
My parents grew up during the Great Depression. When my father was 12 years old, he worked for a butcher. His job was to deliver a chicken to a restaurant owner alive or it would be refused. I heard a lot of Depression-era stories as a kid.
In high school, we studied the Great Depression in U.S. history. I said to the teacher, “I can tell you all about it from all the stories I’ve heard growing up.” He didn’t take me up on the offer. When my oldest sister received her first paycheck, she announced how much she had earned. My father corrected her and said, “No, that’s how much we allowed you to keep.” When he grew up, he had to turn his paycheck over to his parents.
That “scarcity mentality” continues to echo through my life. There wasn’t a lot of margin financially when I was growing up. When I was a sophomore in high school, my father had hand surgery. It didn’t go well. It affected his ability to be a construction worker. After that operation, his work was erratic. Money was tight. You didn’t ask for anything extra.
Fast forward and it is 2018. My father has been deceased for 28 years. Yet those tapes ring strong in my head.
Charlotte Rescue Mission is preparing for its annual Thanksgiving Food Box Outreach campaign. We are asking the community to put together a complete Thanksgiving meal. Everything was placed in a box.
The program has grown from 50 boxes in 2012 to 3,000 boxes last year. Originally, we were just asking people to provide the food box; we would provide the turkey. But one year, it increased from 500 to 1,700 food boxes. That greatly exceeded our ability to provide turkeys. We asked our food box partners to donate turkeys. They did.
Thanksgiving 2018 snuck up early on everyone. It was Nov. 22, much earlier than previous years. Our timeline to raise awareness for the turkeys was shortened. On Nov. 10, we were scheduled to receive several hundred turkeys. But when I looked inside the freezer truck, there were only 50 turkeys. What would we do?
One thing we did was dress me up in a pilgrim outfit. We created a 30-second spot in which I pretended to be a pilgrim who got lost and arrived in Charlotte asking for turkeys. We promoted it through our media partnerships. Then we waited.
By Nov. 15, we had half our goal. Would it fill up?
Nov. 16 arrived. So did the turkeys. One donor delivered 200 turkeys at 7 p.m. I watched individuals arrive with cars loaded with turkeys. I felt as if I was in the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life” – the very end where people bring cash to help George Bailey. By Nov. 18, we had the turkeys we needed for our Thanksgiving Food Box Outreach campaign.
There is a Scripture verse that says, “You have not because you asked not.”
There is another verse that says, “Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
The freezer truck tilted in both directions because of the amount of turkeys that were donated.
My parents grew up in the Depression when there was nothing. I have to remind myself of this verse, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
I’ll be back soon. Until then, live well my friend.
The Rev. Tony Marciano is the president/CEO of the Charlotte Rescue Mission. Visit www.charlotterescuemission.org for details.