Thursday, January 30, 2014

Birmingham's Good Samaritan

It’s no secret that Chick-fil-A was founded by a family that considers itself Christian, and yet that same family continues to contribute to hate groups who wish to destroy equality in America. They claim that they run their business on biblical values, but their version of biblical values are not the values of a loving God.  However, with the winter storm that swept through the South this week, one Chick-fil-A franchise owner is an example of true biblical values.  What happened in Birmingham Tuesday evening was an example of how true biblical values are played out.

A snowstorm in the South is about as rare as it gets. Folks around Birmingham, Alabama, weren’t all that worried though. The storm was only supposed to dust the city – not even enough powder for a Southern snowman.  Every prediction of the storm was that any major winter precipitation would be mostly contained to south of Montgomery in a northeastern arch that would stretch from Louisiana to Virginia.  South Alabama was expected to get the brunt of the storms. North Alabama would be spared, but was likely to get some snow flurries.

So when the first snowflakes began to fall, no one paid all that much attention. But then, the flakes kept falling. Before too long people in the Birmingham Metro area realized it was much more than a dusting. By that point, it was too late for anyone to do anything.

Icy interstates and highways soon became clogged with cars and trucks. Thousands of motorists soon found themselves stranded with nowhere to go – including many stuck on Highway 280.  (As a side note, a similar situation occurred in Atlanta, but Atlanta had been predicted to get heavy amounts of winter precipitation. Birmingham had not.)

But a good number of those stranded motorists were able to find shelter in the storm thanks to the kindness and generosity of some Chick-fil-A restaurant employees and the restaurant's owner, Mark Meadows.  Once the snow started accumulating, Meadows closed the restaurant and sent his staff home. But a few hours later, many of them returned – unable to get to their homes.

“Our store is about a mile and a half from the interstate and it took me two hours to get there,” manager Audrey Pitt said. “It was a parking lot as far as I could see.”

So Audrey left her car on the side of the interstate and joined a flock of bundled up drivers trudging through the snow.

“At one point there were more people walking than driving,” she said.

Some of the drivers had been stuck in their cars for nearly seven hours without any food or water. So the staff of the Chick-fil-A decided to lend a helping hand.

“We cooked several hundred sandwiches and stood out on both sides of 280 and handed out the sandwiches to anyone we could get to – as long as we had food to give out.”

The staffers braved the falling snow and ice, slipping and sliding, as they offered hot juicy chicken breasts tucked between two buttered buns. And Chick-fil-A refused to take a single penny for their sandwiches.  The meal was a gift – no strings attached.

“They were very excited and extremely thankful,” she said. “People were thankful to get something to put in their stomachs.”

“We just wanted to be able to help,” Audrey said. “[Tuesday] was such a hopeless situation. We wanted to do something to make people feel a little bit better. We were here. We had food and there were people outside who needed food. So it just made sense to do something for them.”

But Chick-fil-A’s generosity didn’t stop there.

“We opened up our dining room to anyone who wanted to sleep on a bench or a booth,” Audrey said. And this morning, the weary staff members fired up their ovens and began preparing chicken biscuits. The only thing that is closed – is Chick-fil-A’s cash register.

“We’re not open for business,” she said. ‘We’re just feeding people who are hungry.”

I’d say the Chick-fil-A team blessed a lot of people in Birmingham – but that’s not how Audrey sees it. “It’s a blessing to us to be able to help people,” she said. “It really is.”

I think this is a wonderful story of generosity.  “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,” Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew. “I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”  The owner of this Chick-fil-A franchise obviously knows the meaning of the teachings of Jesus.  Maybe one day the CEO of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, will learn what the true meaning of Christianity is.  I have to say though, that until Cathy quits donating to anti-LGBT organizations, I still won't be going to a Chick-fil-A restaurant and giving them any of my money.

I am glad though that there are people like Mark Meadows who understand the true nature of Christian charity.  May God bless him.

And while we are speaking of people getting stranded in the Birmingham area, some teachers and school administrators have my complete sympathies.  Throughout Jefferson County (Birmingham is in Jefferson County), some parents were unable to get to their children to pick them up from school and teachers and administrators stayed with the students, some overnight, so that the children would be safe, warm, and well-fed.  Being stuck in a car for hours on the road is one thing, but I can't imagine the nightmare of being stuck at school with my students overnight.  It may sound horrible of me to say that, but if you knew my students, you'd no doubt feel the same way.

Thankfully, Alabama should begin to thaw out tomorrow afternoon.  Today will be another snow day for us.  The good news is that with the governor declaring a state of emergency, we will not be required to make up the missed days.  I could not have made it to school tomorrow anyway.  My driveway is still frozen over as is the road in front of my house.  I keep praying that no one hits those patches of ice and has a wreck.  I can understand carefully getting out on the roads if you have a major emergency, but it is quite stupid to get out and joyride and sightsee.


Michael Dodd said...

We must never forget that "they" are like us. And that "we" are like them in many ways. May we all come to be the best we someday soon.

silvereagle said...

Great post on a cold winter morning!!! Thanks :-) :-) We need more good Samaritans in this world...there were many stories of care and concern that are untold over these past few days.

JiEL said...

It's a very «warmful» story when we can notice such humanity in difficult situations...

We did have many same stories here in Province of Quebec and the last one was when a train derailed in Lac Megantic last summer, and just devastated the down town killing 35 men and women.

We saw so many manifestation of love and charity to help those citizens to get over their grief and sorrow...

Too bad that it takes such calamities to see the BEST of humans goodness coming out....

I always hope that ALL AROUND the world men of good will can overcome those of evil thoughts and acts...


Anonymous said...

I've never really believed that every franchise owner of a Chik-Fil-A was as bigoted as the company's owner. Thus the reason that most boycotts don't do a lot of good. Around here, Chik-Fil-A gives away food to teachers and school system employees periodically. The other day I got a card for a free sandwich once a month for 3 months.

The weather down south was atrocious, and I feel for everyone who was impacted. I get that the farther south one gets, the less prepared people are. I thought it was funny that Atlanta went from 2 snow plows to 70 over the last few years. I'll bet the county I work in, population about 250,000 (about half the size of Atlanta - the city itself) has at least 70 snow plow capable trucks and salt spreaders! But, we've had one day of school in two weeks. And no word on tomorrow.

Peace <3

fan of casey said...

Hi Joe:

Glad you are safe and warm and get to keep HRH company. Is the post office still delivering mail? I mailed you something for chinese new year, which it tomorrow.