A look back at last year's food
My Christmas Gift
(Dated Dec. 5, 2007)
By Mike Fak
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I spent a great deal of time last weekend doing something that I
doubt anyone would consider normal. I was up in the air in a small
ticket booth suspended on the end of an industrial boom. Yeh, I will
The advertising manager at the radio station where I stumble
around a bit came up with the idea of promoting the station while
doing something good in the community. His idea was to raise our
station manager, Jim Ash, in the air four or five stories up, for
two days from sunrise to sunset. Only local residents purchasing
food for the local food pantry at the IGA where the high-wire act
was located would cause Jim to be lowered back to the ground. Being
a person who will try anything once, I did my radio show in the air
with Jim and hung around for a few hours more. Jim and I both
discussed the notion that perhaps people would come in droves to
donate food if I were left up in the air rather than lowered back
The next day I went up with Jim again to chip in a few words here
and there, but mainly to keep him company as the station played
Christmas music with frequent live feeds from the ticket box
swinging in the air.
Without a doubt the novelty was given its due by competitors. Two
local television channels and two area newspapers covered the story
of WLCN and the IGA trying to restock the local food pantry before
We received incredibly positive press and kudos from the community.
The IGA and Graue Inc., the car dealership supplying the trucks to
haul the food to the pantry, paid for airtime and were given
extensive thanks for their help. There were a few other great
sponsors, including the industrial crane company, who helped pay the
costs and received very positive advertisement in return. The event
was working as well as we could have hoped for. There had been seven
pickup trucks full of groceries collected plus almost $500 in cash
donations and more coming in every minute as the first day ended.
It was a marvelous blend of promotion, good business and charitable
giving. And then came my gift.
The second day, a sleet storm started to move in and we needed to
bring everything down. We needed to let the crane operator get
stowed away and back on the road before it became too treacherous to
drive the huge piece of equipment back home. As freezing rain fell,
still more and more bags of groceries were adding up in the trucks,
but it was becoming treacherous and we knew we had to pull the plug
on the food drive.
Our being lowered back to Earth was also a great chance for me to
go back into the grocery store's bathroom to soak a finger that I
had errantly burned a few hours before.
[to top of second column]
While moving a small kerosene heater over for warmth in the small
booth, my hand came in contact with the blazing hot mantle, forming
a painful heat blister. The frigid air felt good, but running cold
water on it felt better.
As I walked through the store, I spent time glad-handing with folks
I knew. While walking around in the store thanking people, I caught
a moment of a mom and her two children chirping enthusiastically as
they walked down an aisle. A little girl about 5 and her brother,
perhaps 7, were yelling that this cereal was good or this soup was a
favorite. I remarked to myself how curiously animated these two
children were as to what they were picking out to have in their
home. I was wrong.
About 15 minutes later the trio came out of the store with the mom
carrying two full bags of serious groceries. She and her two wards
brought them over to one of the food pantry trucks, and I just had
to go over and say hello and thank them. It dawned on me as I saw
their actions that the children had been enthused about their
choices because they were picking things out they liked for children
they didn't know. Children like themselves who would find as much
contentment and joy in consuming the foods as these youngsters had
found in picking them out.
The mother proudly stated that her children chose the food
themselves. In just a whisper as I gathered myself, I responded that
I knew that.
As they walked away, the little girl turned, smiling, and wished me
a "Merry Christmas."
No, sweetie. Merry Christmas to you. You taught an old man to
remember that the magic in this world is always in the eyes and the
heart of a child. You also reminded me there is no age restriction
on being young at heart.
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