Like most groups that help people in need, Love Network is facing a challenging time in the face of the coronavirus crisis, but director Beth Thompson said unexpected support from a stranger was one of the most touching experiences of her more than 25 years with the organization.
Love Network is a coalition of local churches that provides a variety of services to people who need urgent help with food, shelter or other necessities. But just as there is a surge in the number of people needing help, the group’s normal supply chain is disrupted as churches don’t have Sunday worship services and many of the volunteers are of an age where they are, wisely, heeding calls to stay home.
Thompson said she went to the post office Monday morning to get stamps and mail and, while she was there she got a call from a volunteer talking about the food giveaway at Faith Presbyterian Church Tuesday.
“We talked a minute about people starting to line up for food fairs hours before they began, therefore having to turn away people very soon after they started because they had all the car loads of people they could serve based on their amount of food,” she said.
A young man nearby picking up a package at the window apparently heard and, when she finished the conversation, approached her.
“He stopped me and asked if the problem was the supply of food, funds to purchase the food, or volunteers to give the food out? I replied it was a little bit of all of that,” Thompson said.
He reached into his wallet and pulled out a stack of bills, with a $1 bill visible on the outside, handed it to her and told her to use it to help in any way they needed.
Thompson thanked him and put it in her purse without counting it. When she got back to the Love Network building, she told the volunteers who were there about the encounter and pulled out the money.
“As I opened it, to my surprise was a $100 bill and below that was a $50 bill and then many $20s, a $5 bill and four $1 bills,” she said.
“My mouth fell open and the tears burst forth, as did my volunteers’ watching this play out. This man heard a need, without knowing me at all, reached into his wallet and gave me all he had! As I took the money, I guess I anticipated some $1 bills and maybe a $5 bill or two. I never imagined $314.
“I do not know this person to thank, but God does! Thank you is never enough! If you are reading this note, please know how grateful I am personally, and how grateful Love Network is for the many items this will help purchase to continue helping many in need in our community. You truly touched my heart!”
Thompson said Love Network was closed Thursday and today, and will not have any food to distribute Monday, but will open.
Talking to people who arrive in recent days looking for help, she said many seem to be facing fear as much as material need.
For those who do have need, she said the first thing to do is to make use of resources that are available: those with children can get breakfast and lunch for them at the school district distribution sites, and stores still have food that can be purchased with food stamps.
For anyone who can help, she said the most urgent needs Love Network has at the moment are cleaning and hygiene items.
Laundry detergent is a particular need, but also diapers (especially sizes 4, 5 and 6), wipes, deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo and similar items.
Love Network is located at 206 N. Whiting St. in Baytown.