Page 20 of Sweet Treasures

Movement at the window snagged her attention. Donald. Anna held up her forefinger at him and mouthed the word wait. She hurried in the back, fixed five cups of hot chocolate and placed them in a drink holder and put several treats in a paper bag. Within seconds she was outside.

Donald stood with his back settled on the cold brick wall at the end of her building. Four of his homeless friends, two women and two men stood three buildings down, watching. Anna waved at them like she did every morning. They never returned the wave but instead lowered their heads in shame. If only she could let them know they had nothing to be ashamed of. Like Donald, two of them were war veterans who had served their country and had paid a high price in doing so. They deserved better than this.

They deserved to be honored and treated with dignity.

They deserved to be taken care of like they had taken care of America.

Not left alone to fend for themselves.

While Anna couldn’t change the world and help everyone, she did what she could to hopefully make a difference in some people’s lives.

Like she had Cailyn, Jenna, Dorothy, and Maria.

They were all homeless until she had found them. Anna, through the help of Jesus, had made a difference in their lives by letting them know how much Christ loved them, by helping them find homes, and by giving them a job. That was the main reason why she would never sell her shop and risk them all not having a steady job. No man, no matter how wonderful was worth that risk. Not even Nicholas.

“Good morning, Donald. How are you this morning?”

Donald’s kind face, covered with facial hair and lined with wrinkles from the massive trials and tribulations of life, gazed over at her. “Morning, Miss Moretti. I’m doing okay. You?”

No matter how many times she’d told Donald to call her Anna, he wouldn’t do it. Well, whatever made him comfortable, she was okay with. “I’m doing better now that you’re here. I made too many cookies again.” She tsked. “I really appreciate you and your friends helping me out by taking these off my hands.” She handed him the bag and the drink carrier.

“Ah, Miss Moretti. You and I both know you’re helping us out. You wouldn’t have any trouble selling these.” He held up the bag with his thin worn out gloves. “But I thank you for not making us feel like we’re the scum of the earth, cuz we really aren’t, you know.”

Anna laid her hand on his worn out coat with several moth-eaten holes and made a mental note to add coats to her Christmas shopping list. “Yes, I do know, Donald. Jesus loves you all so much and so do I.”

“We know you do, Miss Moretti, and we appreciate it.” He glanced over at his friends. “I’m hoping someday they’ll come and meet you. God bless you for your kindness to us, Miss Moretti.”

Anna squeezed his arm. “You’re welcome. Oh, and before I forget, can you wait here for a just a second? I won’t be but a minute.”

Uncertainty marched across his face but he nodded.

Whirling around even as she took care to not slip on the few ice patches on the sidewalk, she hurried inside. She darted to her office, grabbed the sack from off the floor, and hurried back to Donald. “I almost forgot. I was going through some things at home and I have no idea what to do with these. Would you and your friends mind taking these off of my hands? You’d be doing me a huge favor, you know.”

“Anything for you, Miss Moretti.”

“Thank you.” She put the bag with the twelve sets of gloves, scarves, and hats into Donald’s same hand that held the bag of cookies. She had bought extras in hopes that he would distribute them to anyone else who needed them. Which, she had no doubt that Donald would do. “Listen, I’d better run. I have lots to do. Thanks for helping me out.”

“No, thank you, Miss Moretti. And just for the record, I know what you’re doing. Thank you again for not making us feel small with your generous gifts. We all appreciate them. We appreciate you. More than you will ever know.”

Anna held back the sniffles that threatened to come. “Well, I love you all and care about you. And don’t any of you forget it.”

“We won’t, Miss Moretti.” With those words, he turned and with a pronounced limp, he walked toward his friends. Anna stood there a moment and sent up a prayer for Donald and his friends, many of whom she had yet to learn their names. Someday, she would. At least she hoped that chance came.

She spun around and bumped into something solid.

Hands cupped her upper arms, steadying her. “Oh, I’m so sorry.” Her gaze slid upward, and her lips split into a wide grin. “Nicholas! What are you doing here?”