The Bulk Buy

It’s 1989 and my family is spending a Saturday in the city 45 minutes from the rural town where we live. My dad will buy a newspaper, and we’ll use it to check movie times. After the movie, we’ll go to dinner at Chili’s and order a family favorite, the Awesome Blossom. 

Before all that, though, we’ll head to the mall for some shopping. My mom likes to take her time and my dad is all business, so they’ll synchronize their watches and drop off my dad to look at tools in Sears while my mom, with me and my brother trailing her, will attempt to see more of the mall. The mall is the only one within many miles of many small towns, so it’s crowded.

As we dart through the clumps of people and their bags, my mom catches a whiff. Mind you, it’s not the fresh batter of piping hot corn dogs from Corn Dog 7 or the sweet tang of a recently-blended Orange Julius. No, Sheila Bates has sniffed out a sale. She ignores the plush puppy dogs doing flips and the kites waving outside Kaybee Toys and marches my brother and I into an end cap, where all the Hot Wheels are on a super sale. We’re going to need a basket, she motions to me. I sigh, not really interested in what is about to transpire, so I drag my feet and frown as I go get her a basket. My mom stands in front of the display like she’s a kid herself again, standing in front of a wall of candy. She has a gleam in her eye as she begins raking the Hot Wheels into the handheld basket. When you begin to buy everything off an endcap, other shoppers begin to notice. I slink down the next aisle, trying to put as much distance between her and myself. I’m mortified because people are stopping to look at her.

Whit?” She yells out, looking for me to help her.

“Mom! Please! Do you really need this many?” I whisper to her, my cheeks red.

“Yes, this is the best sale on these. Do you know how many more we can get at this price?”

My mom stops to count them in her basket, and we eventually make our way to checkout, which I refer to as the second wave of cringe. It’s here where the questions start.

“Wow! That’s a lot of cars! Shopping for a lot of kids, are you?” Asks the cashier, his eyes bugging out. 

My mom just smiles and says, “Yep, I sure am!”

People in line behind us start to roll their eyes because checking out takes forever. My mom doesn’t seem to notice.

Growing up I was with my mom a lot when she’d buy items in bulk. Sworn to secrecy, my brother and I knew she and my Grandma were providing kids in need presents at Christmas, but neither of them wanted any recognition for it. As I grew older, I began to recognize what they were doing was important work, and I stopped being embarrassed in stores and more helpful to my mom. As an adult, we’d reminisce about how mortified I had been as a kid. We’d remember a shopping trip, laugh about it, and then I’d file it in my childhood memories and forget all about it.

Until we started Bates Mission. My goal in our first year was to help one young adult. By the end of 2022, because of our awesome donors, we had an opportunity to help over 100 young adults who have aged out of foster care.

Our Bates Mission Housewarming program provides household necessities quarterly to young adults who are living in subsidized housing programs. In these housing programs, they must finish high school or attend college and work part time. It is our goal to come alongside them and provide household necessities to help offset their monthly expenses. Our household kits are different each quarter, but they all have one thing in common: there are multiple items in the kits. Multiple items times 100+ young adults means we are now buying in so much bulk we look like we’re running a home goods store:

  • There have been carts full of sale detergent at Walgreens.
  • There were the 100 air fryers on a Black Friday sale that the Best Buy employee brought out via a pallet jack.
  • There were the bath towels on sale at JCPenney’s that they wheeled them to checkout with a 4’X6’ industrial cart.

Our debit card has been flagged for fraud when we’ve tried to buy the same item over and over, and there have been many stares and some very curious comments. 

Last December, we had an opportunity for a company to help us pack the housewarming kits. With thirty volunteers, we wanted to keep them busy, so we had them pack two different quarters worth of supplies. They packed 200 kits, with nearly 2,000 individual supplies, in less than an hour. It took a rented UHaul van and four personal vehicles to move all the items around.

My mom would be amazed at the sheer magnitude of generosity we encounter being a part of Bates Mission. She would have loved all these sales. And she’d find it hilarious that I was back in the buying-in-bulk business. But most importantly, Bates Mission Housewarming is not only meeting a tangible need, it is showing someone who maybe hasn’t had a lot of love or acceptance in their life that we see them. They matter to us. This was my mom’s greatest gift: She saw everyone, and she treated everyone equally.

Want to be part of the journey? You can always shop our Amazon wish list, make a donation, or help us pack housewarming kits at our next volunteer event

Is your company or organization interested in hosting a housewarming supply drive or packing party? Email us at info@batesmission.org.

Bates Mission

1904 S. Bagdad Road, #2

Leander, TX 78641

info@batesmission.org

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