Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Update: Project Clean Start

So far I've assembled 35 care bags for Project Clean Start. My amazing, amazing co-workers, as well as several friends, have really stepped up with the contributions, and I believe I have enough money to do at least 20 more. I'm going to take this big basketful to West Alabama AIDS Outreach this week.

Working on this project has changed me. Firstly, the generosity and willingness of my co-workers to support my project has moved me in a way that is difficult to describe. It's renewed my faith in people, and their ability to "do good," and it has prompted me to "pay it forward" for other requests and causes. For someone as self-absorbed as I tend to be, it's like I'm finally awakening, at 35, to what everyone has been talking about my whole life.

Does this mean, choke, that I should have a baby? Oh Hell no. Please forget I ever said that. Baby horse? OK. New puppy? Possibly. Little pink human baby? I swear I'm not on drugs.

Secondly, when I went to Wal-Mart on Sunday, and painstakingly placed all of the trial size items on the conveyor belt, my cashier wasn't overly amused. She looked at me and said, "Oh Lord." (We say that in West Alabama a lot. It translates roughly to, "Are you freaking kidding me?") I felt badly because, once upon a time, I was a cashier and that's a lot of inventory to move on one ticket. But, I pressed on because my cause is important to me, and there are no posted limits on how much you can buy.

Instead, I took the opportunity to explain the project to the cashier, and mentioned several of the types of agencies we were assisting. When I said, "domestic violence," she asked, "Do you see a lot of that?"

I said that I personally did not, but I knew it was a problem that many people face.

She quietly responded, "I needed one of these packages one time, but I had to make my own."

And then she shared a little of her story with me, how she had to fight everyday of her life, and eventually grew weary and fled. Her story ended positively - her abuser went to prison, though apparently on unrelated charges - and she found happiness with someone else.

But not without a price to her person. She said, "I am still haunted by nightmares. I dreamed once that he'd dug a hole and was going to bury me alive. And the thing that scared me so much was that it wasn't difficult to believe."

I thanked her for sharing her story with me, and she thanked me and my group for the efforts we were making. I'm glad I chose to explain why I was buying so many trial sized items.

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