Monthly Archives: March 2015

Mobile Van Contents

Do wonder what we carry on our van? Volunteers stock the van each day before others come in the morning to make five to seven gallons of coffee, another five to seven gallons of hot water, and make sure that the van is fully stocked for the morning.

Van Contents

We stock the van to feed about 70 people per day. This is the average number of people who come to us looking for food. The following is our “packing list”.

Rear Door

Top Shelf

  • Top Ramen Noodles, extra carton plus whatever is left over from the previous day
  • Laundry detergent, one cup in a zip-lock bag, about 50 bags in the container
  • Dog food, one cup per bag, about 40 bags in the container. We don’t always have dog food. Mainly, our volunteers buy it with their own money and give it. The organization does not pay for the dog food. Sometimes we have cat food; also purchased by the volunteers.

Middle Shelf

  • Top Ramen Noodles, one full box
  • Crackers, two varieties for the most part
  • Granola bars
  • Candy, cookies, pies, and other sweets that are available

Bottom shelf

  • Juice drinks of various flavors
  • Hot chocolate packages in powered form ready to mix with hot water, one full box plus whatever is left over
  • Fruit, such as applesauce, peaches, oranges, or mixed fruit. Sometimes we have fresh fruit, but that has a limited shelf life and we don’t normally like it for that reason.
  • Canned goods. Tuna fish, ravioli, chili, beans or most any other “meal in a can” dish goes into the canned goods tub.

Side door

The side door has, in no specific arrangement, the following items:

  • Hot cereals, usually several flavors. We distribute two packages per day per person. We supply the hot water, cups, and spoons.
  • Sugar packets and sugar substitute packets.
  • Creamers for the coffee and tea if desired
  • Tea bags.
  • Napkins
  • Hot Sauce
  • Plastic Disposable Spoons
  • Cups for hot liquids and cereal

In addition to that, we may stock items such as soap, razors, combs, tooth brushes, tooth paste, dental floss, deodorant, cough lozenges, cotton, toilet paper, and feminine hygiene products.

So, there you have it. A fully stocked van ready to go out on its daily mission.

It is Spring. The year is 2015. All is good.

Spring Time

Welcome to Spring. The birds, bees, flowers, and trees are all out celebrating. All of God’s creatures are stirring from their long winter slumber.

We have generated our Spring newsletter. Duncan Elledge and Jackie Carlson from the Auburn group produce the newsletter. In all modesty, I had nothing to do with it.

You can find your very own, personal, private, and highly prized copy here.

Photo from the spring wallpapers at

Do you have a P-38?

Lockheed P-38


The Lockheed P-38 “Lightning” is a world war II vintage, twin-engine, twin boom fighter, interceptor. It saw combat during World War II, mainly in the Pacific theatre, and was flown by the Army Air Corps (later renamed the US Air Force).

Some variants of the plane held space for cameras and used in aerial reconnaissance missions. The airframe was ideal suited for that role as its two propeller design gave it great speed and a high rate of climb so it could “get out of dodge” (trouble) quickly.

Cost at the original time of manufacture: about $98,000.

Walther P-38


The Walther P-38, or pistole 38 as it otherwise known, is a 1938 design, semi-automatic handgun designed for the German Army as a replacement for the 1908 luger. Carl Walther Waffenfabrik manufactured them from 1939 to 1945. It had a detachable magazine that held 8 rounds of 9MM pistol ammunition.

Cost at the original time of manufacture: $14.08 (The lugar cost about $19 at the same time).

Its smaller variant, called the Walther PPK, is a police variant. The fictional character James Bond favored it. And, to correct the movie “Dr. No”, he never carried the Italian Beretta. It was always the Walther PPK.

NEITHER OF THESE DO WE CARRY WITH OUR VAN! We never have and never will stock either of these two items with our van. One is too costly and the other too deadly.

Can Opener P-38


The “OPENER, CAN, HAND, FOLDING, TYPE I” is a small device used to open cans of rations, usually type “C”, during World War II and beyond. The military purchased them before they switched to MREs (Meals Ready-to-Eat). MREs used a bag and not a can to hold the meal.

The soldiers themselves coined the designation “P-38”. It took about 38 punctures to open a “C” ration can. Or, it could be that it is 38 MM in length (about 1.5 inches) while its cousin the “P-51” is 51 MM in length.

(By the way, the P-51 was also a world war II fighter. It was known as the “Mustang”.)

You unfolded the opener, swinging the blade out at a right angle to the base. Insert the lip of the can into the slot and put the blade against the top of the can. Then, with a single forward press of the opener, the opener pivoted against the rim and pierced the top of the can. Then slip the device a bit forward and repeat the operation until the can is open completely and the razor-sharp lid removed. After that, clean the opener, re-fold it back and return it to the pocket for use again.

How did this start?

You might wonder why I am mentioning airplanes and handguns here. Well, the story is strange.

Let me take you back to when I started to work the van. On our first day, a Sunday, we served in the park. Eileen asked for help and so my wife and I volunteered to help her. She worked the back of the van and I took the side. The back of the van was where we would bag up food for distribution while the side had all the other items, cereal, sugar, creamers, tea, etc. It also had the bins that held various other things such as razors, cotton, etc.

Her instructions were simple; “Give them two bags of cereal, three or four creamers, two or three sugars, a tea bag or two. The rest … well, just play it by ear.”


I was asked at least a dozen times for a P-38. The first few times, I simply said “No, we don’t have any.” because there was no war plane parked nearby and considered the request “strange”.

Later, I thought that they might be asking for a gun. Well, we don’t have any guns either so the answer was still no.

Finally, I asked Eileen “what is a P-38?”

Her answer was “Oh, that is a can opener.” A can opener! I looked for a can opener. You know the type, it is a hand-held device that resembles a pair of pliers. It is a rather large item. Still, no can opener that I could see in any drawer, so no, we don’t have any P-38s.

Now, years later, I know what a P-38 is. They cost about $0.20 if you buy them in bulk (over $1.00 each if you want them individually.)

You learn something new every day. Who would have thought that a P-38 was a can opener!

These Feet Have Soul

This is a story from an old copy of our newsletter. I do not know who wrote it. When I read it, it reminded me of a person who came to the van in Roseville when we were serving on Sundays. He told me to call him “big foot”. He must have towered at least 6 feet, 8 inches tall and had large feet that must have been at least a size 14 (US) shoe. And, to someone who is over 6 feet tall himself, that is a statement. The man was a gentle giant. I saw him only twice. I will miss him.

Anyway, here is the story. I hope that you like it too.

There is a gentle man who I will rename Harry. Harry and I met the very first week that the WWJD van began feeding in Colfax. He was over 6 feet, 3 inches. He towered over my 5 foot, 5 inch frame. He had long white hair kept in a pony-tail and had it neatly under a cap. His beard was white and his low voice lumbered out slow and deep. He had been gold panning. His face was ruddy from the exposure along with his bite spattered white legs and scraped arms. As soon as he spoke I felt safe, as his slow deep voice seemed to resonate in deep reassuring tones. He never seemed in a hurry to speak or go anywhere and always greeted people with a friendly voice.

The earnestness of how he worked on his claim stake and always seemed to hint at what he would do when his big strike would come in, surprised me.

Harry had been gold panning near the Bear River almost 15 years and when the first hint of snow would come to his camp in the woods near Colfax, he took off for a warmer climate. Some winters he was not so lucky and would get stuck in the snow. He never complained about illnesses, his situation, or discomforts. Harry resigned to face the life that he chose. That’s what I admired about Harry. He knew his place. It was his choice. Sometimes I felt that maybe had things been different for him he wouldn’t have minded having a home somewhere.

Harry was a Vietnam vet but did not dwell on or bring up his experiences. When his health became poor or when he became riddled with spider bites that festered, he would take off to the nearest walk-in Vet clinic. For someone such as himself, that would be either in Rancho Cordova or Reno, Nevada.

One day I found myself driving Harry to Rancho Cordova to get evaluated for some serious swelling issues. I did not mind the long wait at the Rancho Cordova hospital waiting room and found his company pleasant. Two heavy packs and a bed-roll encumbered him. While waiting, he told me of his great walking adventures.

Harry, though as large as he was and appearing slow when lumbering from here to there actually enjoyed walking – sometimes long and exposed to sun – but he would cite Bible verse as he walked along. He said that he had many Bibles throughout his life and during solitary times he would read and re-read it, memorizing favorite sections. He said it made his walking less lonely and passed the time. After awhile, he said his walks and verse-citing felt like there was someone always there with him reciting the verse with him and keeping him company.

One of his walks found him stranded on Interstate 15 outside Barstow where he accepted a ride from a motorist on his way to Las Vegas only to have the car became disabled. It was only twenty-five miles from Las Vegas, Harry related. He began walking to the nearest gas station for help. He had underestimated how the day’s heat and the weight of his pack affected his judgment on his walk to town. He said he hadn’t gone far when the heat overtook him and he searched unsuccessfully for water in his packs. Many cars zoomed past him and never stopped. Remember, Harry looked frighteningly large. He started citing Bible verse because he couldn’t read due to his eyes being sensitive to the long exposure to the sun. After awhile he said he sensed that someone was with him … jogging his memory when he failed to continue citing his verse.

Harry told me that as soon as he finished his favorite section of Matthew, a California Highway Patrolman stopped and picked him up. The stranded motorist had informed the patrolman that his rider, Harry, had taken off walking. Harry, very apologetic about causing a fuss, accepted a ride into Las Vegas where he was able to recover from the heat stroke that he suffered. The patrolman said Harry was very lucky. The temperature that day was over 107 degrees and even hotter on the asphalt where Harry walked. Harry happily cited his Bible verses. It helped his memory when it needed a jab. I know who kept Harry company. He has been with Harry all his life, gold panning, waiting at the Vet clinics and on his walks. He has blessed Harry in many more ways in life than most.

For the short time I was able to enjoy Harry’s company when I took him to the hospital as well as the few months that I spent with him at the van I felt I knew Harry pretty well. A big, looming but kind and gentle man who had accepted his lot in life and even delighted that he experienced things most folk don’t ever come to know. I envied Harry’s walks where he would have the Bible verse in his head and not in his hands through some pages. I envied the time he spent walking … he walked with love in his heart and the Lord by his side.

Last winter snow arrived in Colfax and the WWJD volunteers collected funds so Harry could take a bus to a warmer climate. He made it out of the snow into warm Arizona and called us after he arrived there. In January, Harry called me to thank us for getting him to his new home where it was warm. Surprisingly, I was in Arizona myself when Harry was doing fine and spoke of the time when he could retire and stay there permanently. In April, Harry called me again to say his Social Security retirement came through. Though receiving only a small stipend, he was very happy and saving it monthly so he could move into an apartment. I asked Harry if he still walks. He said, “Yes,” though he stays close to home. Harry says he’s never alone when he walks and continues to do so daily. I smiled and thought to myself; truly Harry’s feet have a soul.

God Bless You, Harry

Do you work for these companies?

If you do and want to be J. Paul Getty or perhaps the next Steve Jobs then please read on…

Some large companies offer matching funds to charities. This means that if you give, say $25, to our charity, they will match it with an extra $25; dollar for dollar. You get the tax break for the $25; the company gets the tax break for the $25; we get the $50; and you get a good feeling that you are helping out your neighbors.

I can’t really tell you what it feels like. Your $25, even more if you can afford it and want to really feel like Mr. Getty, can make a tremendous difference in the life of people in the town where you live. Perhaps Mr. Kennedy said it best in his speech at the American University when he remarked that:

Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.

Companies with matching grants

  • American Eagle Outfitters
  • Apple Computers
  • Best Buy
  • Boeing Aircraft
  • British Petroleum
  • CVS Pharmacy
  • Coca-Cola
  • The Gap
  • Google
  • The Home Depot
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Kohl’s
  • Macy’s
  • Microsoft
  • Nike
  • Redbox
  • Starbucks
  • WalMart & Sam’s Club

Please, contact your HR department if you work for these companies. Ask them about the matching grant program. While I can’t guarantee that we qualify for any one company as each is different, we do fit the general criteria for these companies.

Companies with Volunteer Programs

A second method of a matching grant is that the company will actually pay us to “use” your services.

Companies such as Apple will pay us $25 per hour for your services. This means that if you worked for Apple and you volunteered your time to us, say for an hour on Sunday, then Apple would pay us $25 for each hour that you worked.

A partial list of those companies that do this is below. If you work for one of these companies, then again, please check with your HR department about the policies. If there is paper work that you need to send then we would be happy to help you.

  • Apple Computers
  • Best Buy
  • The Gap
  • Google
  • Macy’s
  • WalMart & Sam’s Club

Thank you for considering a donation. Now, it is time to get back to work!

Interdenominational Christian Charity Organization

That’s a catchy phrase; isn’t it?

It started when someone came up to our van in Roseville and wanted to know if we were part of the church in whose parking lot we were presently serving. They wanted to help.

I do not know their story. I was busy with other duties at the time. It is not a common occurrence that someone physically walks up and asks if they can help and yet are not one of our clients. Most of the homeless people that we serve are more than willing to help. That is not the point. This person just rode up on a bicycle and asked if they could help.

But he had a lot of questions. The first of which was whether we were members of this church? No, we told him that we were not. This church allows us, for an hour a day Monday through Friday, to use their parking lot to distribute food. That is our only association with this church; they offer us a place to help the homeless. And for that, we are extremely grateful because many places, some Christian churches included, reject the homeless as if they were “unclean vermin”.

The next question was “Ok then, what are you?”

One of the volunteers came up with the answer “We are an interdenominational Christian Charity Organization”. (The actual response given to him was “non-denominational Christian Charity Organization”, but, technically it is incorrect so it was edited here.)

It is true. We are. We come from many different faiths with a common Christian ethic. I would say that about 80% of our volunteers are Roman Catholic, but there are also Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, and “born again Christians” in our ministry. All faiths are welcome. I would venture to say that we would welcome anyone with a generous heart of any faith background who wanted to help, provided that they could occasionally put up with a simple prayer or two at our gathering from time to time.

We do not go around with Bibles, preaching the Word of God. And we do not ask anyone to subscribe to any particular belief or faith in exchange for food.

We are interdenominational, meaning that we come from many different faith backgrounds. We are Christians who believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ and his call to serve one another. All who serve with WWJD?, in any capacity, are volunteers and according to the U.S. Tax Code, we are a non-profit charity.

There you have it. We are an “interdenominational Christian Charity Ministry” whose mission is to practice the love of God. We leave the preaching to others.