In this ongoing column, we highlight some of the acts of hashgacha pratis, Divine Providence, that happen every day at the Chicago Chesed Fund. And they happen even with refrigerators and freezers.
It was 3 a.m. on Friday, June 22, and Rabbi Yossi Fuerst’s home phone rang for the third time that night. It was the alarm system company, calling yet again to tell the Chicago Chesed Fund’s director of operations that the alarm in the organization’s 40-foot commercial freezer was still going off.
That night, the Chicago area had been experiencing severe weather. The Chicago Chesed Fund warehouse had lost power, and the freezer’s alarm automatically sounds when its internal temperature begins to fall.
Knowing there was nothing he could do until the power was restored – and that it was best to keep the freezer closed – Rabbi Fuerst waited until morning. At 7 a.m., he drove to the warehouse and was relieved to find that the power had been restored. He went to check the freezer, and was surprised to find that it wasn’t on. In the past, it had always started back up, on its own, after a power outage.
He had no idea what to do, but it was too early to call the freezer company. He decided instead to try the organization’s electrical contractor, Alfy Cherrick, whom he knew tended to start his day early.
Rabbi Cherrick picked up his phone, and was shocked when he heard the question.
“I know exactly how to get it back on,” he said. “There’s a reset button on the back of the unit. Press it.”
Rabbi Fuerst found the button, and the freezer hummed to life.
And then Rabbi Cherrick told him the rest of the story.
The day before, he had come to the Chicago Chesed Fund because he would soon be installing a generator to power the warehouse in event of an outage. He had planned to check several things, including how he would connect the commercial freezer to the new generator once it was installed. While checking the freezer, he happened to take note of the reset button.
“For some reason, I was directed to focus on the reset button as part of the details of this project, so that the next morning Hakadosh Baruch Hu [G-d] would let me help the Chesed Fund,” says Rabbi Cherrick. “I know that Hakadosh Boruch Hu works in this place.”
Or like the time…
It was mid-June, and the Babendir household was buzzing. Mrs. Babendir heads the Chicago Chesed Fund’s clothing gemach, and her daughter, who had just graduated high school, was hosting a graduation party in their Skokie home.
But there wasn’t much space because there were bags of clothing everywhere. Many of the clothes that are donated to the Chicago Chesed Fund are dropped off and sorted at the Babendir home. Mrs. Babendir then arranges for them to be taken to the Chicago Chesed Fund where they are tagged and displayed.
That morning, “I needed those bags out of my house fast,” recalls Mrs. Babendir.
But the Chicago Chesed Fund van driver who typically picked up the clothes was not available. Mrs. Babendir knew she needed a Plan B. She called the organization’s furniture department to find out if the Chicago Chesed Fund truck would be out picking up furniture donations that day. Mrs. Babendir was relieved to hear that it was – and that the route included a stop in Skokie later that morning. A quick call to the driver confirmed that it would be no problem for him to stop at her home and pick up the bags.
Just as Mrs. Babendir hung up the phone, she received another call, this time from a friend in the neighborhood. The friend was moving, and she had purchased a new refrigerator. Her current refrigerator was still in good condition, and she wanted to donate it to the Chicago Chesed Fund. There was just one problem. She had to get rid of it that morning, and if the Chicago Chesed Fund wouldn’t take it, she’d have to leave it for the garbage men.
Knowing that the Chicago Chesed Fund truck would soon be in the neighborhood, Mrs. Babendir called back the driver and asked if he could make another Skokie stop to pick up the fridge. The driver, however, had several stops on his route and said it would be very time-consuming to go into the house to get the fridge and load it onto the truck. He didn’t see how he could do it and still stay to his schedule and not inconvenience the other community members scheduled for furniture pickups.
Mrs. Babendir called back her neighbor to explain the situation and was pleased to discover that her neighbor had her own movers who would be placing the refrigerator outside. All the Chicago Chesed Fund truck had to do was drive by and pick it up.
Later that morning, the fridge was picked up, and within a short time, a family that needed a fridge got one.
“When someone calls to donate furniture, we typically can’t arrange a pick up that same day because, thank G-d, there are so many community members donating furniture,” explains Mrs. Babendir. “Had I not needed the truck instead of the van, and had our truck not been in Skokie, and had my friend not called me that day, and had I not known the truck was coming to Skokie anyway, that perfectly-good fridge would likely have ended up in the garbage,” says Mrs. Babendir. “Obviously, Hashem meant for a family in need to have that fridge.”
Or like the time…
A different refrigerator in good condition was donated to the Chicago Chesed Fund in the spring. There was just one problem: the refrigerator had to be taken apart in order to remove it from the previous owner’s home, and it was delivered to the Chicago Chesed Fund literally in pieces. None of the staff members knew how put it back together.
The refrigerator was standing near the loading bay, and staff members were debating what to do with it. Just then, one of the staffers was called away to assist a food shopper. She went to help the shopper – and was delighted to see that it was someone who actually knew quite a bit about appliance repair. She mentioned the refrigerator to him, and without a moment’s hesitation, he set to work putting it back together.
In just a short time, the shopper had the refrigerator fully operational, and it soon went to a family in need.
Tags: Programsback to stories