It's for the children

Today, I must return the "favor" my husband did for me yesterday by taking the boys. Now, don't let him fool you; he always takes the boys on weenie wagon weekend--usually both days. Due to other circumstances, I had mentioned to him that I felt one day was plenty, and I had plans for them. With that being said, it was probably a bigger deal for him to take them yesterday than not. I think there is some man connection that dates back to his childhood with his father.

The weenie wagon, as we call it, isn't a wagon nor do they serve weenies solely. Well, maybe if you look at the clientele...

Thank you. I'll be here all week.

It all started in 2001. My husband's company is a huge supporter of The Children's Miracle Network. No one had really done much in they way of supporting the cause, as usually the Customer Service Manager was in charge of the fundraising. In years past, it was solely those balloon sales. I am not sure what sparked his desire that year, but he decided to really try and make a real effort to go beyond $1 balloons.

His big fundraiser that year was a community donated yard sale. We spent weeks and the kids' college funds on gas money driving around the county. First, we dropped off flyers and one paper sack explaining what we were looking for and what to do. Then, it was to pick up truck loads of goods. The response was overwhelming and more than he hoped for. At the last minute, he decided to talk to one his drink vendors and see about getting a trailer to sell food out of. We got something like this:

Except that I think it was white, rusted, and had been assembled in 1877. But it served the purpose he intended. We sold [grilled] hot dogs, hamburgers, and sloppy joes. Your side choices were chips, select beverages, or nothing. My mom and I named it, the Weenie Wagon. The name has stuck all these years...

Fast forward to today. He no longer uses the trailer; he's outgrown it. Not him, physically, but his menu. He doesn't do the yard sale anymore-there are some stories!- but rather the weenie wagon grosses more profit during the season than the one large yard sale and cookout alone. Then, there is the added benefit that this is easier to put on than the yard sale. I think we all have probably put on our own yard sale, maybe teaming up with the neighbors or girlfriends. Imagine that stress [maybe it's just me] multiplied by 1,000. Or picture this: the next time you go to Goodwill, peek in the back room. That was us for six weeks.

So today the weenie wagon, as we call it, is still put up in front of his store. He is in a large tent with the front being an actual counter he built. I just had a thought! Maybe we should change it to the Weenie Hut. [Any Sponegebob fans?] His menu now reads: hamburger, hot dog, BBQ chicken, white beans and corn bread. Side choices include: mac-n-cheese, potato salad, chips, and baked beans. There are always desert offerings and icy-cold beverages. He holds these once a month from March(ish) to as late as November. And people ask him in between, "When is your next cookout?" If I mention to someone that my husband is the manager of X store in Y town, they always know who I am talking about and that he does this fundraiser. Of course, he is 6'2" and bald...

With the spirit of my husband's heart on this project, you might wonder why I would balk at a chance to work in the sun, on a blacktop parking lot, inside a tent backed by a grill, in Tennessee humidity for a slim chance on winning a trip to Disney World? [He has come in second for the last four years.]

It's the people.

Don't start writing the hate mail yet. Let me give you a fresh example he shared with me just last night: A lady walks up, starts to scan the menu board, and says, "Well, what do you have?"

(I just told you all, and I am sure you could answer the question without looking.)

As she lays herself on the counter, she decides she'll have a hamburger. Then, she wants to know if they have white bread to put it on. No ma'am, just a bun.

"It doesn't have seeds does it?" (She is getting more hateful as she speaks) No ma'am, it is plain.

She continues to complain about something or another, and as she opens her wrapper to dress the freshly grilled burger, she complains that they aren't patted out.

It's this sort of business that we listen to all. day. long. I usually stay in the back of the house and make up plates, sandwiches, grill, ect. He is better at not answering questions with an attitude or smart remark than I am.

I'll go and put on my happy face. It was very slow yesterday so I'll bring a book, perhaps My Name is Russell Fink, and make a great memory with my husband and kids on this Sunday.

I also look at it this way, it makes for great material.

One think I failed to mention....100% of the profits he makes goes to Vanderbilt's children's hospital. Last year, his store raised right at $10,000. This includes cooking out, balloon donations, a golf scramble, and one other thing that has escaped me.

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