Clowns, Clothing and Christ Part One
I had the opportunity to travel with a Christian charity that distributed clothes and supplies to poor children living in Appalachia. Â Our first stop was a small elementary school deep in the mountains.
Oh, and we had a clown ministry with us as well.
Hours before we would open the doors, families began lining Â up outside the school. Â >> Inside, volunteers Â from both the charity and the school began setting up distribution Â tables in the gymnasium with signs denoting the grades.
The clowns prepare clown-stuff.
People from all over the world (including my mother) had sent in hundreds of hand-made dresses for the girls and Â store-bought jeans for the boys. Each plastic bag had socks, undies and toiletries. Â We would also hand out hundreds of nylon backpacks filled with basic school supplies.
volunteers help set out the bags of clothing by school-grade and dress size.
In the school lobby, volunteers sign in each family and their children. Â It was a slow process because care had to be taken that the kids actually went to that school. Â A few were turned away because they had come in from another area. >>This woman had come in with four of her grand children. Â I couldn’t say how old she was because in this part of the country poor diet, dangerous jobs and hard living Â make age-guessing nearly impossible. She had a weirdly youthful, almost childlike demeanor. Â The way she points at her youngest granddaughter reminds me of a little girl.
Everyone in this family barely spoke above a whisper. Â Although they look like total hardasses – and they are, Â make no mistake – Â they were clearly very concerned and protective of their children. Â A few families came in with a grabby “where’s the free stuff?” attitude. Â But only a few. Â Most, like this family, were very humble and respectful and maybe even a tiny bit humiliated by the experience. Â I was told Â by one of the school employees that everything that they were wearing was donated to them except for the “Best Dad” shirt. Â He clearly loved his kids, so, yeah: Best Dad . Â >> The two gentlemen on the right were affiliated with the charity. Â They were both quite sincere, hard-working dudes who have dedicated their retirement years to helping others. Â It is worth noting that the man in the grey t-shirt was a Korean-war vet who always carried around a book called “The Marine Bible.” Â He hated me on-sight, never said a word to me the whole week but Â complained about Obama pretty much constantly.
A little boy Â in his dad’s protective embrace never said a word. Â He Â had small seizures every few minutes where his eyes would roll back to the whites and his mouth would turn down. Â I do have several pictures of this happening but I have no intention of showing them. There would be no purpose to that.
The Â woman in the brown t-shirt came in Â with just her little boy. Â She was very, very shy and did not like the camera. I only include this picture of her because later on she rewarded me with one of the best smiles of the whole trip. Â >> Â Back in the gym, a clown waits for the children to arrive.
Parts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 will be posted soon.
Text and Images Â© Andrew Auten – All Rights Reserved