By Kay Heitsch • December 4, 2016
"Can you tell me if anyone in our store does community service?" Bill asked. A person spoke up and said," I know that Rose does. She helps the homeless at her church." Bill, my husband, had recently been transferred to this store as the Store Manager. Bill liked to recognize employees who worked in community service. He met with Rose and found out about the outreach program operating out of her inner-city church. Bill told Rose that he thought that I would enjoy helping her.
When Bill came home that night after the two-hour commute, he told me about his conversation with Rose. I was excited at the idea of helping in such a program. I started to spread the word that Bill had an employee who was helping the homeless out of her church. I asked if anyone wanted to help by donating usable items. The response was amazing. We lived in a small community where homelessness was unheard of. We had our share of poor people, but to the best of my knowledge, no one was living on the street.
Word spread like wildfire. Churches were calling, offering clothing and food. Once a week I stopped by a church in a nearby town. Each week I loaded the back end of our van with the things the people in their congregation dropped off. An older couple from our congregation gave us a check and told us to use the money to buy Bibles and inspirational materials to take to the mission. On several occasions I came home and found bags of clothing sitting in front of our garage. Every day when Bill drove to work, his car was loaded with help for the homeless, given by total strangers.
I took this opportunity to clean out the closets in our home, too. Bill had an overcoat he seldom wore. I put the overcoat in, along with clothes our children had outgrown and several articles of clothing of my own. Every so often Rose would stop in Bill's office and tell him stories about the mission. One day she talked about an overcoat that her minister had taken from the clothes we had donated. As Rose described the overcoat, Bill knew it was his. He was happy that he had been able to provide this young minister with at warm coat.
One cold day I walked by our downstairs closet. I noticed a snowmobile suit that had been our oldest son, Todd's. The thought to put this snowsuit in for the mission immediately came to my mind. I dismissed the thought as I had been saving this snowsuit for Brandon, our youngest son. Todd had died in a car accident a few years before and for some reason, I had saved this snowmobile suit for Brandon. This was one of the very few things I had saved of Todd's. I couldn't believe that the LORD would want me to give up this "special" snowsuit I had been saving all these years. The thought came again, "Put the snowmobile suit in." I walked over and took it off the hanger. I looked at the tag inside. It was a man's size small. When Todd died, he was six feet tall. How long had I been keeping this? Brandon wasn't quite three years old when Todd died. Even now he wasn't big enough for this suit. I decided it was time to part with this "special" snowmobile suit I'd been saving. I took it off the hanger and laid it lovingly on top of a bag of other clothes for the mission.
Bill's old store was closing. Almost everything in the store was gone. Now they were getting rid of the racks. We knew the mission could use the racks to hang the clothes on. We rented a Ryder truck and loaded several racks in. We stopped by another church to pick up clothes before we headed two hours north to the mission. Since we'd rented this truck, I decided to ride along. Usually Bill took everything to his store. Then Rose's husband would come in and pick the things up. Since we had the truck, we were going to drive to the mission and drop the items off. Rose's husband met us at the store and jumped in the truck to give us directions to the church where the mission was located.
It was a cold day in Cleveland. The wind was blowing and the snow was beginning to fall as we drove in the area where the mission was. As I looked around I could see that this neighborhood was certainly not like the ones I knew. As we pulled up in front of the church I noticed that all of the windows had bars on them. The front door had a huge chain going through the handles.
We stopped the truck in front of the church and opened the door. As we were getting out of the truck, a small black man with a big toothless smile came out to greet us. He ran over to the truck and offered to help. I looked at this man and I looked at Bill. I couldn't believe my eyes. This little man had Todd's snowmobile suit on! Tears filled my eyes.
The next day Rose walked in Bill's office and asked, "Did you see the man in the snowsuit at the mission?" When Bill said he had, Rose said, "You know Bill, there's a story behind that snowsuit." Rose went on to tell Bill how this little homeless man was always around to help. Rose said that the day this snowsuit came in he had picked up the bag and the snowsuit fell at his feet. He picked it up and asked if he could try it on. Rose told Bill that she thought it was "rather foolish" that a grown man would want a one-piece snowsuit like this, but she told him to go ahead and try it on. When he tried it on, it fit perfectly! He told Rose that all his life he had wanted a snowsuit like this, and now he finally had one.
When Bill came home and told me this story, the LORD spoke to my heart and said,"Kay, you were wondering why you were saving that snowmobile suit all these years; now you know!" All these years I'd thought I was saving this special snowmobile suit for our son, Brandon. Now I knew that I was actually saving it for a special child of God who had always wanted one.
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