A few years ago, I saw a need. I watched as people went above and beyond to help the less fortunate at Christmas time and then seemingly forget about them in the months afterwards. It was an easy enough thing to do. It is the middle of winter, money is tight, you spend more time at home by the fire.....whatever the reason, we just don't seem to think of their plight.
I came up with an idea and shared it with a friend at a local helping agency and thus MOW was born. MOW stands for Middle Of the Winter. I had all sorts of catchy phrases go around in my head like, "Let's MOW down hunger and MOW down the cold". Anyway, I purchased three containers and began collecting warm clothes, blankets, sleeping bags, and food. The agreement with the local agency was that they would distribute all that I collected directly to the ones in need and that the items would not end up on their store shelves.
Originally, I had hoped that other restaurants would pick up on the idea and that it would be something that we could all do to better help the need. I even called a couple of other restaurants up and challanged them but no one took it up, so from year to year, I just continued doing what I could. The best that I recall was a couple of loads in one week (I had a small Chevy Blazer). I remember doing a little better when KBND ran a piece on it one year.
So, this year, I sat up the container yet again. I had already gotten some articles from people who remembered and ask if they could drop off early. I sent out the normal Public Service Announcement and waited. My friend Mike Schmidt from the chamber placed it in his weekly email which I was very grateful for. Then, around 10 AM, Z21 called and asked if they could run a piece on it. They sent a camera man right down and that evening (last Thursday), it was featured in the news and also Friday morning.
By noon on Friday, I had a van load and took it down to the Salvation Army. I was overwhelmed by the response. By 5PM, I had yet another van load. Since Salvation Army was closed for the weekend, we placed it in one of our storage sheds. Around noon on Saturday, I had yet another van load and when I left last night, I noticed that the front entry way at Jake's was loaded up again. I am sure that by Monday morning, we will have enough that Captain John from the Salvation Army will have to bring down his big truck and we will probably fill it.
It shows me two things. People watch the local news and they do care. Some have even gone out and purchased new items and brought them in. With that and an assurance that Salvation Army will distribute these to the ones who truely need it, I know that this winter, we will all be making a difference.
Thank you, Bend, for your response!