We stood proudly on the tailgate and surveyed the pile of food. 126 items was a new record for me. It had taken the two of us more than six hours, and I could see that Michael was genuinely excited to give it away. He had been asking me where we were going to donate it, but I decided to do something a little different this time. I remembered the motel refrigerator last night, with only a quart of milk and not a speck of food anywhere else in the room. I knew what I wanted to do.
I climbed off the tailgate and pointed at our stash of canned goods. “What did we say when we knocked on the doors?” I asked him, to make sure he remembered.
“We said, ‘We’re collecting food for the homeless and hungry in Savannah. Would you like to donate?’” As Michael said the words out loud, I could tell by the way his voice trailed off at the end and he turned to look at me, that he was going to put it together. I nodded. “You qualify. I want you take some of this food, man. I want you to take whatever will help you and your brother’s family.”
Michael’s eyes had gotten big as his face became a question mark. “Are you serious?” His voice cracked when he asked the question. His left hand dropped into the back of the truck and brushed a box of Macaroni and cheese. I nodded. He picked up the box and whispered “My little neice would love this…”
I had asked him if he ever went hungry. He glanced up at me as he processed the huge amount of food filling the back of my truck. “Oh, yeah. And I hate eating the food that my bro has, because he’s got a family to feed, ya know. He never has enough. I usually just try to ignore the sounds my stomach makes. Eventually, I fall asleep.” His voice was excited, and I grabbed a plastic bag. “Here, take anything you think would be good for you guys, and that you’ll use. I’ll donate the rest.”
Michael began sorting through the boxes of microwavable stuff, the pastas and the cans of ravioli. I dug through the boxes of stuff my dad had given me to bring on the trip and found a box of military rations. I showed it to Michael. You don’t have to cook it. His eyes lit up and I handed him the bag. We began separating the things he wanted for his family in the back of the truck.
I noticed that the sun was sitting low and began to mumble to myself about wanting to see a sunset in Savannah. Michael heard my personal mutterings and clarified. “Are you wanting to go somewhere else before you leave town?” I thought about it and realized that Michael didn’t have a car. There were probably a lot of places that Michael would like to go. “Where would you go if you wanted to see something beautiful?” I asked him.
“My brother told me once about a place called Tybee Island. I’ve never been there, but I bet it’s pretty,” he said. I snatched my GPS out of the front seat as Michael tied off the last bag full of macaroni and cheese for his niece. I found the Island and set the navigation. It was only about a half hour away. “Sweet dude, you wanna go?” I asked, but before the words were even out of my mouth Michael was running around to the passenger side of the truck with a huge smile on his face.
(Photo: Shay Kelley)