Strippers for the Lord

Every Monday morning I volunteer at church with a group known simply as “Peanuts.” Fifteen or more of us meet in the parish hall at 8:30 and painstakingly strip the skins off of raw Virginia peanuts after soaking them in boiling water. Then the kitchen crew takes them and cooks them and packages them in quart containers for sale. The money made on these peanuts is used for outreach. Some goes to support the food pantry, some may go to Habitat for Humanity, or to buy equipment needed at a homeless shelter, or it is used for various other projects. We usually make about $12,000 a year stripping peanuts. Our peanuts are the best I’ve ever tasted and are always in high demand. Some people even get testy if they haven’t gotten their order in on time and they cannot get their peanut fix.

I go to Peanuts every Monday because I feel it’s important to volunteer in your community. I go to Peanuts because I believe the money we’re raising through our endeavors helps a lot of people. But the reason that I would rather be nowhere else on Monday mornings is because I love being with my amazing volunteers. You see, I am one of the youngest there, by far. At 63, I am a good fifteen years younger than most of the other peanut strippers. Our oldest volunteer is J. who turned 91 last September. He was a fighter pilot in the South Pacific in World War II. The majority of these oldsters have lived in the Hampton Roads most of their lives. They know everyone. I love listening to them tell their life stories with their soft and genteel Tidewater drawl.

These people have lived a lifetime, worked hard and retired, suffered the deaths of children and spouses, had serious health issues they’ve had to cope with, yet they have the most delightful sense of humor and joie de vivre. It’s impossible to be around them and not come away with that same exultation of spirit. Yesterday morning the topic of discussion was cataracts. One Peanut Lady said that after her cataract surgery, she  could see better than before she had cataracts. She actually didn’t need glasses anymore. When I marveled at that, she said, “It’s not all good, you know. There’s always a downside to everything.” She looked a little solemn, and I asked what the bad part of the surgery was, expecting something very unpleasant. “Well,” she said, “when I got home, I saw how really dirty the house was. And I looked at those walls and wondered what I was thinking painting them that horrid color!”

These wonderful seniors are my role models. Some have returned to Peanuts after going through illnesses that brought them close to death. If they cannot drive, they find someone to bring them. They continue to be relevant in a world that so easily dismisses people their age. I am privileged to work with them as strippers for the Lord.

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About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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30 Responses to Strippers for the Lord

  1. Val says:

    Sound great, and that they have a wealth of stories and experiences to enjoy while you’re all, um… stripping those peanuts!

    Hey Susan, I just discovered I wasn’t following your blog. I don’t know how that happened, but I am now.

  2. I love every bit of this post, from the title to the end. I have been feeling called to head over and volunteer at church for a while now, both out of altruism and duty to the Lord and also the desire to learn how to make pierogis and hear the stories of the Polish women who make them. I hereby resolve to do it, and soon! Now I just have to figure out what to do with my high energy toddler… -kate

    • Coming East says:

      I’ll take the toddler, sweet Katie dear, while you learn how to make pierogis! I definitely want to hear about your experiences when you volunteer. Now you have to do it!

  3. pattisj says:

    What a lovely post. Sounds like a lot of fun.

  4. Amazing when I volunteer I find myself surrounded by others, many older than I, with more energy and passion….great post!

    • Coming East says:

      Thank you, Nonstepmom. And those volunteers have been at it a lot longer than I have. Gives you pause whenever you think you’re too busy or too tired to do something for others.

  5. yen says:

    Your title really got me, Susan!:) They sound like a delightful bunch to hang out with. What a way to start the week!

  6. Amy says:

    Such a harmony and well-balanced community program! And, it benefits so many people. Thank you for sharing the heart-warming story. Cool title!

  7. judithhb says:

    Now I know why you like Mondays.

  8. What a delightful bunch to hang out with. Now that sounds like job you can run to on a Monday morning. You are blessed.

  9. Al says:

    What a heart-warming story, Susan. I know that feeling of exhilaration you’re talking about. I take a 99-year old retired doctor to lunch every couple of weeks and I come away much wiser and better for it.

    On the downside, good luck with all the weird folks who will visit your blog from the search engine word “strippers”. If they’re actually strippers, just send them over to my blog. Just trying to help out.

    • Coming East says:

      I thought that title would generate more hits, Al, but so far I’ve only heard from the usual crowd. The day is young yet, though. Maybe I should put a link to your blog?

  10. Jenny says:

    This sounds like an inspirational group. I do love your title for the group. Impressive amount of money for a Monday morning group!

    • Coming East says:

      Yes, itnisna lot of money, Jenny, especially considering we work September through The middle of December, and then February to the middle of March. We have hug orders to fill starting in November because people buy quarts of peanuts for Christmas presents or to take to a family gathering at Thanksgiving.mmour peanuts are famous in the area.

  11. E.C. says:

    Wonderful group of friends you have there. I really enjoy being with older folks too. They’re amazing and know so much. Life experience is the best teacher of logic. 🙂
    I think it’s great you all work together to make a satisfying treat that brings in money to help folks with. ~applause~

    • Coming East says:

      Thanks for the applause, EC. Getting outnofnthe house so early on a Monday morning would be difficult if it weren’t for the fact that I get to spend time with these wonderful people.

  12. Huffygirl says:

    Well, this post did NOT turn out to be what it sounded like. Wonderful story.

  13. notquiteold says:

    Sounds like folks I would like to know.&$&

  14. Love this story! Many times our best teachers of life lessons are standing right next to us. I have found that those who have a few years on me (since I now fit into the “Senior” category I can’t call them that any more) have such a unique perspective on life, and have lived through periods in history I have only read about in books. Their lives and experiences are invaluable to me. I worked for a time with adults with developmental disabilities. I came home from work daily a better person for the privilege of sharing their lives.
    Now you have me craving peanuts!! I am sure you offer them as much as they offer you.

  15. Nice choice of title! 😉

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