By Chris Meehan
The Tuesday before Christmas, Patti Deakin looked out her window in Allendale and discovered a man dropping off some heavy boxes on the front porch of the house next door. Patti went over and found seven packages, each containing ham, vegetables, fruit, potatoes and cookies, enough food to serve as Christmas dinner for a family of six.
The food came from the youth group at the Catholic parish some of the community members in Allendale attend. The same church had given the Allendale Christians in Mission team some Turkey dinners at Thanksgiving, but Patti says, “we had no idea there would be food to distribute this Christmas.” Patti, her husband Gerry and Nathan Barrett talked about whom they might give them to, and they quickly came up with six names. “Since Christmas comes at the end of the month, many Allendale residents were low on food stamps, and these gifts were much appreciated,” Patti says.
They needed a seventh name, and Gerry thought of Karl, a disabled vet who frequently rides his bicycle down Yale Avenue. Though Gerry saw Karl frequently, his personality had remained something of a mystery. It had taken Gerry more than a year even to learn his name. Then, bit by bit, Gerry had pieced together some of his story. He was a former drug addict who earned money by doing yardwork. He was also trying to help his wife get through a 90-day program to overcome her own drug addiction. But Gerry didn’t know where Karl lived, or if he had a stove to cook the food or a refrigerator to store it in.
The next day Karl knocked on Gerry’s door and Gerry asked him if he had a working stove and refrigerator. He did, so Gerry offered him the food. Karl’s eyes grew big and he gave a wide grin.
“Nobody ever does that for me, Mr. Gerry,” he said.
“But the Lord is going to do it for you today!” Gerry replied.