I first met the neighbors’ kid, right after Christmas in 2020. They had just moved in, and he came to my door with a slice of pizza. His family hadn’t bought a microwave yet. He asked me if I would heat the pizza for him.
I will admit it wasn’t a wise move on his part. He didn’t know me. Happily, I don’t have a boyfriend who is a pedophile or a son who’s a drug dealer. I am a single lady of a certain age, who likes kids as a spinster aunt likes her nieces and nephews.
So, I heated the pizza and gave him a can of fruit flavored seltzer water.
I didn’t see him again until last January, when he came by and offered to shovel my walk for a small sum. Better him than me, and I doubled the sum. He earned it.
After that I didn’t see him until the end of March, when he came to my door and asked for money to buy food. I gave him what I had, knowing it was possible, I was being played, and knowing I’d rather be played than let a kid go hungry.
Here is where I need to digress a little.
My dad spent much of WWII in some of Hitler’s finer POW camps. The Germans observed the Geneva Convention, mostly, so conditions weren’t that terrible. But they weren’t that great either, and the food was not much.
I grew up hearing dad’s stories. Now I can’t let anyone go hungry. I give to food drives. I feed my friends. I don’t pass by on the other side.
Anyway, I wasn’t being played. He was back four days later, with his brother. This time I was short on cash, so I gave them two cans of soup and some frozen dinners I had put by for emergencies. They were happy to have them.
They were back at the end of March. This time I was prepared with four frozen pot pies. I figured they were buying their food at the local convenience store, and while frozen pot pies aren’t the greatest food in the world, they’re better than chips and soda.
They were back again yesterday. They wanted matches, because their electricity was off. I had some matches last used to light a Halloween pumpkin. I was happy to contribute.
They were back a little later, asking for money for food. I gave them what I had, which wasn’t much, and a jar of peanut butter I’d bought for a food drive.
I hadn’t expected to have to feed them again, until the end of the month, when people often run out of money. But their father left, and they were hard up.
I have a phone number for the local food pantry, for the next time they stop by, along with bread and bologna. I can’t let people go hungry.
Dad, eventually, escaped from the POW camp. He made his way to the Russian lines, because they were convenient and he wound up in Ukraine. He had considerable admiration for Ukrainians. I can see why now.
Anyway, I was planning on having a little fundraiser for Ukraine as kind of a way of paying back.
But I can’t quite bring myself to raise money for people on the other side of the world, when the kids next door are going hungry.
My means are limited, there is only so much I can do for the boys next door. But I can’t let people go hungry. That’s just how I am.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.