Kindness, when given away, keeps coming back.
Scattered throughout farms in Amish America are small bulk grocery stores. They have no signage, no advertisements, no large neon lights. Only a sharp-eyed observer might notice a few metal grocery carts stacked out front and realize they belong to a store.
Inside, a stream of Amish customers quietly push their carts up and down the aisles. The store is not crowded but never empty. There’s a library hush covering it, like a morning fog. A few English tourists ooh and aah over the low prices of spices. Ground cinnamon in a pint-sized container costs only twenty-five cents. An older Amish man reviews his wife’s handwritten list in his hand, scratches his head, then peers up at the boxed cereals. “There it is! I just love Post Bran Flakes,” he says aloud, pleased. “Best cereal on the market.” Two women, good friends, meet up in an aisle, whispering news of their families.
Long metal shelving is filled with staples such as sugar, salt, flour, and lots and lots of bulk candy. There’s another distinctive feature in this simple store. A cardboard box, placed near the register, with a handwritten sign on its front: “Grocery Shower. For Sam and Maryann Stoltzfus. Maryann has had two surgeries for gall bladders. Expenses are high. Let’s help.”
Rebecca, whose family runs this village store, explains it is an Amish custom to have a grocery shower box. “It’s a way we have of taking care of our own. There’s always someone who needs a little extra help.” The box is overflowing with goods.
“Tomorrow,” Rebecca adds, “there will be another box. Just learned of a couple whose baby was born a preemie.” She said that in most communities, a week or so after a wedding, friends have a grocery shower to help fill the couple’s pantry.
Caring for each other provides great security and peace of mind for church members. The Amish believe their actions of kindness are much more important than words or money.