Defending the Needy by Speaking Through a Can

I’ve seen him walking the streets in our community for years. There was always something peculiar about his posture, his “swiftly and with purpose” walk, his skin that is weathered by the elements, but mostly the bags of cans in his hands. I didn’t know where he came from. Or if he had escaped from somewhere.

Until this week.

I found out the man in our community is “Donnie” and he’s been a fixture of the community for years. Mentally and verbally challenged but friendly and persistent, Donnie makes the rounds on the major roadways in our community, picking up aluminum cans. As unprofitable and laborious as this sounds, especially in a state with no deposit on aluminum cans, this is how Donnie supports himself. Faithfully making his rounds in the community, cheerfully converting our garbage into his livelihood, everyone who knows Donnie seems to love him.

So it must have been someone who didn’t know him who took 7 or 8 garbage bags of cans from his home here in Donelson.

Fortunately, that wasn’t the end of the story.

When word got out on Facebook about what happened to Donnie, our community began to rally. Individuals, churches, businesses began to empty their pockets and recycling bins for Donnie. Within 48 hours, hundreds of dollars had been raised (and is still continuing to be raised) and Donnie has even been featured on the local news.

For a man with a speech impediment who cannot speak for himself, I find it’s a beautiful thing when citizens of our community take to heart  Proverbs 31:8-9, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly;  defend the rights of the poor and needy.” 

Sometimes we can speak with words.

Sometimes we can speak with dollars.

Sometimes it just takes a few cans.

Who are you speaking for?


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