We were recently given a truck to haul food from Manna Food Bank to our main food pantry, and future food pantries as we are in talks with several groups that want to serve their local communities.
When you tell people you were given a truck that is over 20 years old, with 300,000 miles, and dents in the body and bumper, and scratches and rust all over, they look at you like you were a fool to take on this liability. But there is a story behind this truck...
My Dad purchased this truck 20 years ago, when I was around 12. It was the first vehicle he had ever purchased new for himself, and probably the only vehicle he every spent more than $500 on (he was a mechanic). I remember him coming home on a Friday afternoon like a little boy, running to Mom to beg her for the $5,000 down payment (Mom was the saver in the family), and praying for a yes. When he drove it home, I remember being just as excited as he was. Although we had purchased a van new in the 80's, I was too young to remember that purchase. I remember asking where I would sit and sitting there, as if I was practicing for all the rides I would take in it. This became our family vehicle, taking it on vacations, trips to town, camping with the Boy Scouts, etc. When I turned 16, Dad would let me take it out on the weekends for dates. I would wash it on Friday afternoon, vacuum the interior, and clean the windows. Afterwards, I'd fill it up with gas for Dad to start the week with (gas was only 99 cents a gallon then).
In later years, Dad didn't pay quite as much attention to cars and things around him. He also quit cleaning the truck. As he was a mechanic and did body work, he and his clothes where always gross, and so was the interior. It was looking pretty rough. He did always take care of it mechanically and serviced it well. I never knew him to drive much over the speed limit and he was always easy on the engine and transmission.
Why do I tell you all this information? Well, my father, Kenneth David Robinson, passed away last year. He was only 62 years old and it came on somewhat unexpectedly. In the last few years of his life, his 20-some member church in the small rural area of Rougemont, NC started a food pantry. Like everything at the church, Dad was heavily involved with the food pantry. His main responsibility was the deep freezer, where he handed out -with careful frugalness - but a perceptive generosity, the gift of frozen meats.
I'm proud to think that the same truck that got him to that pantry to faithfully serve his neighbors is now the same truck that transports around 500 pounds of food a week to our facility.
I had a trusted mechanic look the truck over and he said he couldn't believe the quality of the truck compared to the miles. He assures me it still has a ton of life left. My Mom and I spent over 6 hours with brushes, rags, oxi-clean, water, and upholstery cleaner scrubbing out the oil, grease, and nicotine from the interior.
If you have read this much, I'm sorry it's so lengthily. I think I'm writing this more for my benefit that yours.
We are excited to see how this truck can have a direct impact on hunger in WNC!