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dell

March 4

Dear Diary,
Today we took pies, soup, and some clothing donations up to Papa Wyatt. He’s really a Father, not a papa, because he’s an Episcopalian pastor in Dawn Gap. But the people in the Gap call him Papa. I don’t know why, maybe it’s just friendlier.

He was glad to see us because they have a soup kitchen on Saturday afternoons and our food added to it. “Winter wasn’t too bad,” he told Mama. “Folks remember to give around Christmas, and that carries us through. But come spring, seems like thoughts of planting gardens and getting outside turn topmost in people’s minds and pickings can get pretty slim.” He sighed. “It’s kind of like bird feeders: they’re nice and full in the cold weather, then you see ‘em hanging from April to November without a seed to be had.”

We stuck around to help out in the soup kitchen. All kinds of people came, from old ladies to tiny babies wrapped in rabbit fur. It made me wish I had a dozen blankets and caps, Diary! I could knit forever and not make enough for all those cold people. Papa Wyatt helped them go through the bags of clothing we brought and it helped a little. But when the plastic bags were all empty, one mother came and asked if she could have those, too, as raincoats for her three kids.

“Dell, this here’s Mrs. Benjamin and her children,” said Papa Wyatt. I looked at Mama, but her mouth was hanging open almost as much as mine. “Her family was staying near your old home town for a while, I hear.”

For a second, I thought maybe he knew about my adventure—but then I realized there was no way he could. Mama shut her mouth real quick and held out a hand.

“Pleased to meet you, Mrs. Benjamin,” she said. “Are you up here in Dawn Gap now?”

Mrs. Benjamin, who was young and blonde and tired looking, nodded. “We’uns are staying close by while Mr. Benjamin looks for work.” She glanced at Papa Wyatt. “He’s off trying to make some sales.”

“They’re in the rectory for the moment,” the pastor explained. “I’m bunking in my office, it’s plenty comfortable.”

“Mrs. Benjamin, I have a blanket for you,” I said. Her eyes went wide. “My friends and I knitted it for your family a while back, but we didn’t know where you’d gone.” I looked at my papa and he cleared his throat.

“I’ll fetch it from the truck,” he said, and left. I knew it was still behind the seats, in a bag, from when he picked me up at Mr. Buford’s place.

That sure was a strange moment, Diary, delivering something that had caused trouble for our family—and a month of grounding for me! But it didn’t last long, since Mrs. Benjamin was so full of thanks and laughter when she saw the blanket, we didn’t have to say a thing. She showed it to her kids, then they left with lots of waving and goodbyes.

I heard Papa Wyatt talking to Mama afterwards, and overheard the word “drugs.” I couldn’t say for sure, Diary, but I thought it might be something bad about Mr. Benjamin. I know there are people in the mountains that make money from selling their medicine—even the medicine that’s supposed to help their children. I tried to ask my papa, but he would only say, “Desperate people do desperate things, Dell. Never mind Mr. Benjamin. At least you helped his wife and children today, and that’s a good thing.”

Mama says we can only change the world a little piece at a time. I guess she’s right, Diary.

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