The Donut Tree and Donut Dares


This is the first summer in five years I haven’t been at the family cottage in northern Michigan,  treat in a town with more fudge shops than people.

The cottage is on one of those back roads that require a few stops at a gas station for directions. One of the landmarks has always been  this big tree with a hole in the middle.

“Make a left just past the donut tree,” the attendant would nod. “And be sure to watch for deer. ”

“The what?”

“The donut tree,” he smiled. “You’ll know it when you see it.”

Yum. My imagination went crazy. Maybe it has bark of chocolate and the branches hang heavy with apple fritters.  But no, it was this tree with a big donut like hole in the middle,

I love that donut tree and everything that has to do with donuts.

But his summer,  I don’t have a donut tree. I’m in  Chicago’s Uptown, where I  got a plastic bag tree and a few rodents about the size of deer. And instead of fudgies stretching the seams of their yoga pants, there are homeless scraping  in dumpsters for something to eat.


But my love for donuts gave birth to an idea: my Double Donut Dare.

Here it is: Every weekend when I go to Dunkin Donuts for my coconut donut and cuppa joe, I buy a second one for a homeless guy.

I came up with this idea after attending the Justice Conference last month. While I can’t put an end to racism, homelessness or sexual inequality, I believe I can make the world a better place one trans fat at a time.

The first donut I purchased was a plain one for a  sad eyed  black man.

“F’real? Plain?”

I thought plain donuts were saved by the donut maker for emergencies, like the jump seat on a plane. They were only to be used in case all of the other varieties sold out, and once quickly splashed with sprinkles and glaze.

But this guy really wanted a plain donut.

“All right.”
Since then, I purchased mostly chocolate donuts for the early risers. One was for a leathery old musician with a Brillo pad of a beard.

“Want to buy a cup of coffee for an old rock star?” he smiled.

“No, but I’ll buy you a donut.”

Come to find out, this guy really was a rock star composer, who lost his fortune but not his pride. He talked about his one hit wonder.

“You can still listen to me on WXRT.”

I also purchased a bag of munchkins for a grumpy fart who barged into Dunkin Donuts, mumbling. The staff was familiar with him and just shook their hairnets. He scowled as he shuffled from table to table,  his hand right up in my face.

“Could you spare me some money?”

“I don’t give money, but I will buy you a donut.”

“I don’t want a donut. I want money. I want to get a sandwich at McDonald’s.”

Was this beggar actually a chooser?  I couldn’t believe my ears. I repeated my offer and ended up getting him some donut holes.

He grabbed the bag and shuffled towards the door without saying the magic word.

“You’re welcome, sir!”

Gee whiz, I  wanted to take the munchkins back.
But this week,  was a sweet one.

I  purchased a blueberry muffin for a young man named Nathaniel. He’s a dark, round eyed nappy haired kid who can’t hear all that well. But Nathaniel does know his manners.
He thanked me in sign language.

 Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible
– Dalai Lama

I miss the donut tree and the calm of Northern Michigan. The guns of uptown aren’t as welcoming as crickets and bull frogs.  But I do love my Double Donut dare. It’s a better way to share God’s love than handing out tracts with cartoons of hell on the back. Plus it tastes pretty good, too.

What have you done to help those hungering for acceptance in your community?


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