I hope it’s ok if I continue Jack’s adventure as a fundraiser, baker, and philanthropist. The story left off where Jack climbed the school bus and reminded me that after school we would go sell his pumpkin bread. I knew this wasn’t a creative way for him to wish me a good day. I had to look at my afternoon schedule and find an hour where I wasn’t chauffeuring, monitoring homework or cooking dinner. That required me to use a bright light and a scalpel rather than a pen.
Jack’s favorite person in our neighborhood lives right next door. He’s a former NBA player and coach, retired now, and a BIG fan of Jack. Really, only Jack could do this to a guy nearly seven feet tall. From the moment we moved into our house and Jack discovered who was next door, he wasn’t shy about delivering misplaced mail, or sharing cookies from the kitchen, or even boldly knocking on his door for an autograph. At Halloween Jack goes there first because he doesn’t mind a bit being fussed about by someone famous. So, after school that second day of selling bread Jack knocked on his door. The big man towered over this little boy, patiently listened to his sales pitch, and then eagerly agreed to buy his bread. A look of horror came over his face as he remembered his teenage grandson had just unloaded his wallet of all his cash. He began to search his house scuttling from his office to the kitchen in big basketball sneakers and finally came up with eighteen dollars. Jack’s face lit up and said,” but it only costs ten”. The towering man put his enormous hand on Jack’s shoulder with fingers nearly reaching his belly and said, “You take it because you are doing such a good thing. I wish I could find more to give you.” I’ve never before witnessed a thanks uttered with such surprise.
We skipped to another house and this mother sat down to write him a check for fifty dollars for one loaf of bread as she sprinkled “atta boys” over him like the powdered sugar Jack enjoys on his own slice of pumpkin bread. As we walked home he added up the sixty-eight dollars he had received for three loaves of bread, then he looked at me and said, “this isn’t hard at all, let’s go home and make some more bread.” And so we did. We also agreed we would make all of October the Pumpkin Bread Project.
Through the week as people stopped by the house Jack would be hovering at the door with a loaf of bread in his hands and a story to tell in exchange for a hand full of money to add to his pile. Anytime I went somewhere to visit someone he’d ask if he could come with a loaf of bread. I told him he better bring two. He continued to wake up early every morning before school to bake his bread. We applied a few math skills to double the recipe, and then we even began to make two batches of a double recipe at once, baking four perfect loaves. I made regular trips to the grocery store and raised the eye brows of the manager as I emptied the shelves of cans of pumpkin. No one had to ask what I was making because my hair had the permanent smell of pumpkin bread in it. I was beginning to think we could also bottle the smell as perfume to sell in the month of October, it would cause many to fall in love easily.
The aroma of baking bread must have seeped through the chimneys of our home and secretly alerted neighbors that we would be arriving at their door any moment with fresh bread for them to buy. When we could fit it into our evening schedule we would knock on doors, Jack would tell his story, and neighbors would melt at the sight of his pure heart and compassion for others. I realized he didn’t just leave behind a loaf of delicious bread, but also a sparkling inspiration to seek and find a little bit of good that can be done in this world as well. We can all benefit from a bright spot of inspiration. I know this little child was certainly inspiring me.
He wrote out an order form when it became clear he couldn’t keep up with the requests for his bread, and the orders stacked up. So did the invitations to classrooms at church where grandparents go to study the bible. He was even invited to his dad’s office where he spread a little cheer. I’ll happily share those experiences tomorrow. I’ll even ask the baker if I can share his recipe with you!