My Broke Folks are all hurtin’

Funny…the season for giving has begun and my assorted Broke Folks are all getting in touch this week, feeling the pinch of their situation harder than usual. I suspect that they’re in a situation where they can’t give, the pressure of Christmas is looming, and it’s making them feel a bit hopeless and needy.

Yesterday I met up for the second time with a new Broke Folk and her Broke Folk neighbor who is more like a soul-sister. They live in the same building, they work in the same office, they both come from Italian families and have bi-racial daughters – a situation that has gotten them largely cut-off by their families – with ex-husbands in drug rehab or jail or some other deadbeat circumstance. They both were doing okay until 4 months ago, when the company they worked for eliminated all overtime, essentially chopping $900 off their monthly take-home. They are both very open with their daughters about everything from sex to money to racism, and thought it was important for them to see with their own eyes that there really are good people in the world. Apparently, that’s me. Anyway, they both get free turkeys from their employer at Thanksgiving (cool benefit now that supermarkets aren’t giving them away as freely as they used to!), and I supplied a whole bunch of the accompaniments from my Walgreens escapades: Ocean Spray cranberry sauce, canned yams, string beans, Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup, cake icing (they like cake, not pie), Stove Top stuffing, French’s fried onion rings, butter, eggs, vanilla CoffeeMate, and some other food items unrelated to Thanksgiving. I also threw in some things I wasn’t sure if she’d want, but they turned out to be her favorites: Glade Lasting Impressions plug-in unit and Scrubbing Bubbles Action Scrubber. How funny is that.

My original Broke Folk, Ayten, the Mom-of-2-teens who was my first up-close-and-personal experience with the definition of “Working Poor”, recently requested Christmas decorations. She’s got a house in foreclosure upstate that her ex-husband abandoned without any preparations. A pipe burst last winter and everything that was stored in the basement is all moldy and ruined. In my Great BedBug Clean-Out, I came across a ridiculous number of strung lights as well as things like Frosty candleholders and garland that I just don’t particularly want anymore. I may also have thrown in some cute dough ornaments from the Dollar Tree this weekend when I was picking up half-price Christmas stockings for that charity I promised to do 15 for.

Then, after a couple of months of near-silence (broken cell phone, and her speech impediment makes it necessary to communicate by text), I heard from Mom-of-9 this morning. She wants to meet up this week, but I asked if we could postpone until next week because of Thanksgiving plans. Apparently she’s quite desperate for supplies though, so I’ve agreed to dig out a few bags’ worth. I’m really quite happy about this – it means I’m reducing the amount of things I’ll have to find room for when I put my apartment back together. Update: she’s also desperate for cat food. She took in a few cats that were abandoned by her neighbor – 3 “lazy” ones and 1 “maine coon bully” who fixed a rat problem brought on by construction next door. Apparently it’s favorite thing to do was to hang out under the baby’s crib and attack any rats that tried to get to it. That cat should be best friend’s with my sister’s cat (saved her from a fire). So I promised Mom-of-9 a dozen or so of the free Fancy Feast appetizers I got for my sister’s cat, and she was shocked at getting some “high class cat food”. God that made me belly-laugh.

Unofficial Shelter Lady emailed me a few days ago asking if I knew anyone in need of a cleaning lady, dog-walker, etc. because things are getting desperate at her place. I suspect her husband’s unemployment benefits are about a month away from running out. I offered to post a flyer in my laundry room, but I think she was really hoping I’d hire her for something… even though I could probably use a better cleaner than I have, I just don’t want to change the relationship I have with her.

And then yesterday, I heard from one of my care package people who normally gets in touch about once a month or so for toiletries. She’s 20, lives with her mom, her boyfriend and his mom are also broke… this time she was asking for any food I had on the go as well, because they’re all having a tough month.

So I’m shopping my butt off this week, working cracker and cold medicine deals at Walgreens and using up my BOGO eggs coupons to give them all quality protein. I think I’ll give thanks this year that my worst problem in 2009 was an extremely minor bedbug infestation.

I’m hoping to put up a post later today with coupon links for all my helpers to print/clip so I can keep my Broke Folks stocked up with a few useful things.

7 Responses

  1. You are an amazing woman — these folks are lucky to have you in their lives, and I’m sure it’s just as rewarding for you.

    • It’s like getting to play Santa but all year ’round, and most of them treat the care packages like it’s Christmas, so everyone’s happy!

  2. Am utterly frustrated that that huge envelope never made it to you, but on the bright side, I sorted a new pile of reusable paper for printing up your next “package.” Ready when you are! 🙂

  3. You’re doing good things. What an inspiration you are. Thank you.

  4. You truly have a big heart. Bless your generous soul.

  5. You are doing a great thing. The time and energy you devote to helping people is really awesome.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. I am so impressed with your generosity! You mentioned Glade plug-ins being a favorite – I have about 25 or so Glade Lasting Impressions plug-ins that I can send to you if you think your Broke Folk would like them. Email me your address and I’d be happy to pass them along.

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