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Kids’ Cruisin’ Kitchen and Relay for Life

July 5, 2013

Nebraska – Friday, June 28

I had several donation ideas for today and none of them worked out, which didn’t matter in the end because I found some I liked even better! The first place I had an address for was theoretically a soup kitchen, but it just looked like someone’s house, and there didn’t seem to be anyone around, so I didn’t go there. Then there was a place that for some reason I thought was a women’s shelter, but it turned out to be some sort of daycare place! At that point, Tula and I got out to walk a couple miles in the neighborhoods of Norfolk. Then I drove to a food pantry, but their hours were very short today and no one was there when I stopped by. There was a sign saying food donations could be left inside an unlocked door, but all the doors were locked so that didn’t work either. So I figured it was simply time to move on to the next town. But in driving out to the road I needed to head south, I passed a big Salvation Army sign, with a message about a new kids’ program – free lunches in the park on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That caught my attention! I went in to their office and they told me about this program, which they just started this year in June when school was out. They call it Kids’ Cruisin’ Kitchen, and it’s for the kids who often get meal assistance during the school year. The Salvation Army already had a mobile canteen, so they worked worked up some menus and got the word out as best they could. The kids get a nice balanced meal, and each time they do this, there are more and more hungry kids as the word continues to spread. I’m guessing the park will be a very popular place to be for lunch in the coming weeks, and they’ll continue this program all summer. They also told me they see an increase in the summer in the numbers of people who come in for meals at their soup kitchen (one would expect to see an increase in the winter months) and it mostly boils down to hungry kids being on summer break. So I was happy to make a donation toward this new program.

Then I headed south toward Columbus. I found Pawnee Park, and noticed a bike trail by the Platte River, so Tula and I got out and walked a couple miles along that. There was also a big veteran’s memorial area, complete with statues and flags from all 50 states, so I went to look at that, and then I found another trail through a different part of the park. That trail led me to the local high school stadium, and I could see they were getting ready to start a Relay for Life event to raise money for the American Cancer Society. I’ve seen lots of flyers for Relay for Life events in the different towns I’ve been in, but I’ve never been in the right place at the right time….until now! I wasn’t part of a team, but I was certainly a walker, and they were happy to get my donation. I got there about an hour before the event officially started, but there were already lots of people there, and some people had already started walking laps around the track. The track circled the football field and was almost completely lined with decorated white paper bags, honoring someone who had successfully battled cancer, or remembering someone who had lost the battle. If I’m not mistaken, teams raise money for cancer research by collecting pledges for the number of laps walked. Cancer survivors received purple t-shirts, and one string of beads for each year they had been cancer-free. I still had nearly 3 miles to walk, and I finished them off doing numerous laps around the track. The surface was cushioned, which was an unexpected treat. The longer I walked, the more crowded the track got. It looked like they were going to have a pretty good turnout for the event that would last all night long. I also looked at the silent auction stuff. I was really happy to run into a Relay for Life event that I could actually partcipate in!

I was ready to sit in the car for a while, so I drove farther south into Nebraska, stopping in the town of York.

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