A Helping Hans

By B.L.Cunningham

Shirley gazed out the window of the bus; another ordinary day at Shotz Brewing Her eyes took in the passing urban scenery and the holiday decorations that encouraged shoppers; her thoughts turned to her Christmas shopping list, her Pop and Edna always said they had all they needed, but still, Laverne thought maybe a ham and a nice box of chocolates..? Laverne was still thinking this over when the bus stopped in front of the Helping Hand Mission, and Laverne saw the line of people waiting for a meal; mostly men who looked down on their luck, but there were a few women in line as well, a couple with small children and Laverne's heart went out to them, The thought of the people lined up for a simple meal refused to leave Laverne's mind; Finally, back in the apartment she pulled off her coat and hung it up and blurted out to Shirley "Shirl.. we gotta do something !" at once, Shirley knew just what it was on Laverne's mind Shirley patiently listened to what Laverne had to say "Your absolutely right Laverne.. maybe there is something we can do" Laverne wasted no time and found the phone number for the mission and was told there was a need for volunteers "Many hands make light work !" said the woman on the other end cheerfully and Laverne found herself smiling. The woman explained what duties a volunteer did at the Helping Hand, greeting the men and women, serving food and coffee , washing and drying dishes " I dislike saying this but.. the time we most urgently need volunteers is on Christmas Eve..so many people have other plans..their own families and parties and things" the woman explained almost apologetically But Laverne only whispered to Shirley "Christmas Eve.. they need us " and Shirley eagerly nodded The woman on the other end asked Laverne to be at the Mission about 30 minutes before 5 "So we can show you what we do, and where things are " Laverne wrote this down "Yes.. yes.. certainly we'll be there !" Laverne and Shirley had made up their minds, if they were giving their time and energy to help the less fortunate, then there was no reason their friends shouldn't join them as well it took a bit of coaxing or in a few cases outright bribery "Squiggy will be joining us" ( in exchange for two back issues of Laverne's Fredrick's of Hollywood catalogs ) and for Shirley, it was bit more complicated; Carmine was feeling rather amorous and Shirley used it to her feminine advantage "Uhmm.. Carmine.. no.. we can't.. please uhmm ohh Carmine.. uhmm Carmine.. I need a favor, I need you to do something for me " Carmine sat up "You and me both angel face " Carmine's hands stopped roving when Shirley explained that she wanted him to join her at the Helping hands Mission " you can sing Christmas carols..please.. Carmine??" "I'm already singing Midnight Mass at Saint Michael's.." he grumbled..Shirley let her own hand wander a bit higher than Carmine's thigh "And in return for this.. favor, what do I get ?" Carmine leered . Shirley whispered in his ear "Would you settle for Almost..?" He would.. She did and it was a memorable evening for both of them. At the Pizza Bowl, Laverne explained to her Pop and Edna that she would be spending Christmas Eve at the Helping Hand Mission "Pop, you always did your best for me and even when we didn't have money you was always there for me, but these folks lined up for a meal, they don't have anyone " Frank beamed at his grown daughter," That's my Muffin, always thinking of others " " Your'e a good daughter, Laverne " said Edna, this outpouring of praise caused Laverne to blush and look down at her feet. After Laverne left, Frank and Edna decided maybe they could close down early on Christmas Eve and deliver some pizzas to the Mission, Lenny was easy; all Laverne had to do was ask and Lenny was only too glad to do something for Laverne, To Lenny; when Laverne entered a room, she brought the sunlight with her and for Lenny , Laverne was all he wanted or needed. The Mission dining hall was brightly decorated with a tree and tinsel and various decorations,but what Laverne noticed at once was how each person was treated with genuine care and affection, and many were called by name "Johnny, good to see you.. Hello Tom, how's the knee doing?" While the dining room held about a hundred people , there were again that many waiting in the cold and Shirley wasted no time in setting up trays filled with cups of coffee and bringing them outside to those who had to wait. and Squiggy followed with boxes of donated donuts and pastries.Laverne entered the kitchen to start dishing out servings of ham and turkey and potatoes and was surprised to find Fonzie at one of the large sinks..up to his elbows in soapsuds tackling a mountain of trays and dishes "Ayy, Laverne, good to see ya !" the mechanic said cheerfully Later, Laverne learned that the Fonz had relied upon Missions such as the Helping Hand during most of his rough childhood for food and clothing and this was his way of saying thanks And so, that night each of them was given a very special gift; the gift of giving of themselves to assist someone else and it made for a very special Holiday for all of them. Merry Christmas