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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Volunteer (11/23/06)

TITLE: It's a Volunteer "Thang", Sugar
By Leigh MacKelvey
11/30/06


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Dust flew up my nostrils. I sputtered, then covered my forehead with both hands to get a better look-see. He crossed from the other side of the road; his back bent forward by the jumbo-sized bag flung over his shoulder. He hollered a friendly shout, waved his free hand and belted out a country tune with a Texas twang.

Texas, that’s where my story transpired. I reckon I have a bit of twang too. Now, here’s the words he sang:

It’s a volunteer thang, uh-huh,
a volunteer thang.
whenever I feel lowdown
and wanna pout, I lift my head,
take a different route,
sing it, shout,
God gave me hands
so’s I can help out,
it’s a volunteer thang, sugar ...


“Hey there, where ya headin’ and whatcha got so heavy in that jumbo bag? Don’t the dust wanna make you puke?,” I’d asked him. I’d wondered about his song, but thought I’d quiz him later.

“It ain’t so bad, long as ya keep your head down,” he’d answered, “ Bag’s full of boots, jackets and children’s clothing fer them people at the shelter. Wherebouts you going?”

“Hoofing into town too. My truck’s in the shop. Where’s this shelter?”

“It’s across from County Hospital. I can run over to the hospital after I help out at the shelter and push the book cart into patient’s rooms. Always sit awhile and visit. Sorry ‘bout your truck. I walk lots now-days. Sold my Chevy.

We conversated all the way down that dusty back road. I learnt he’d sold his Chevy truck and sent the money to some foriegn country so a well could be dug, of all thangs. Said the people were dehydrated. Besides his work at the shelter and visits to the sickly, dadgone, if he don’t visit the jail to jaw with them no good men Can ya’ll believe that? Well, I couldn’t. Not at the time.

Any-a-ways, we got where we was gittin’ and said our nice-to-have-metcha’s. I heard him sing as he left. Shoot, I’d wanted to ask about that. Oh, well. I felt a tad embarrassed. He’d seen me hurry into Delray’s Saloon. I’d plopped on a barstool and tittle-tattled with friends. Outa the corner of my eye, I seen him lookin’ through the window. He spotted me, hollered and waved like I was his lost puppy. I hoped he wouldn’t sing his funny song in front of my friends.

“Sure didn’t expect ya’!,” I’d said to him. “You gonna help out in the bar?”

Dadgone, if he didn’t sing the answer.

“Saw you here, thought I’d volunteer
as your designated walker after
ya throw back them beers.”


I hadn’t ordered, so I asked for soda pop, just to spite him.

He said, “Left the clothes and started fer home. I got this “pricking” in my mind. Bothered me to no end. There’s something I shoulda told ya when we was walking. I’d be tickled pink to tell ya now.”

Listen ya’ll, I was curious. I drank my pop and pricked my ears as he told his own “bar story”. Years ago a drunked-up cowboy had knocked him around the barroom. He’d gotten off his rear and was ready to fight back, but a gentleman appeared from nowhere; sat him in a chair; opened a Bible and led him to Christ.

“ I went home,” he’d said, “Flipped through the Bible and devoured it like grits and ham. The times I feed the hungry; give drink to them that’s thirsty; clothe the poor; visit the jail-birds and the sickly; I’m a-doing it all to Him. I help others ‘cause Jesus volunteered His life fer me .. and you.”

I was astounded by the rest he told. Right then, I gave my life to Jesus. We hugged, and I remembered.

“Hey there, is that why you sing that country tune ?”

He grinned and said, “That volunteer thang? It makes my heart sang.”

I left that bar and stopped by the Red Cross. Donated blood! Soon I was singing loud as my Aunt Bertha when she thinks nobody’s listening.

Folks, Jesus forgives sin and offers free tickets for Heaven to everyone. You just gotta believe, hold your ticket in your grubby little hand and never worry about paying the cost of it. Imagine how much a ticket to Heaven would cost if ya’ll had to pay for it! I’m headin’ to church now, gonna help sew clothes for the homeless.

“It’s a volunteer thang, honey, it’s a ...”


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This article has been read 787 times
Member Comments
Member Date
julie wood11/30/06
I loved this story! The opening line, "Dust flew up my nostrils," grabbed me right away. Enjoyed the vivid descriptions, colorful dialogue, twangy Texas dialect, story line (mention of the hospital book cart brought back memories of when I did that in Oklahoma City), and moving message...this one had it all. Terrific job!
Donna Emery12/02/06
This was very colorful. Loved the dialect and the characters' attitude. Very enjoyable. Good job.
Debbie OConnor12/02/06
Very good. I enjoyed the dialect, the song and the heart of this piece.
Myrna Noyes12/04/06
Terrific job of getting across the "volunteer message"! :) I really enjoyed reading this, and it made me smile, too!
Catrina Bradley 12/07/06
I can't believe I didn't comment the first time I read this. I loved it - loved the way he narrated - words like "conversated" and "learnt" added so much flavor. And the message was clear and to the point. Great job!
Cheri Hardaway 12/07/06
I just adored this tale, being from Texas an all... Loved your dialect and the way you got the message across. Blessings, Cheri
Edy T Johnson 01/21/07
No wonder this took first place. What a joyful story to read! Wow, do you have talent: colorful characters, moving the story along through dialog with a "twang" and a spiritual life message to boot.

Just checking your site to sample what I've missed! Thank you for this :)