Brown-bag lunches from God

Fairfield Daily Republic ©

FAIRFIELD - A prayer and a sandwich steered Ganelle Bogue on a mission to feed the area's homeless.

Three years ago, Bogue carried a peanut butter sandwich, sans jelly, to work every day. It was all she could afford to eat for lunch at the time, the mother of nine admitted.

She prayed every morning, as her sandwich sat nestled inside her bag, asking God to offer her something else to eat.

Finally, Bogue said she heard God say, "If you don't like it, give it away." It was at that point she knew what to do.

Bogue and her co-worker, Janis Allen, are accounting clerks in the Solano County Auditor's Office. They've spent each Thursday lunch hour during the past three years driving around town, handing out brown paper bags filled with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, an apple and a Capri juice to the homeless.

It is a deed both women do from the heart and not for the recognition.

"We're supposed to do these things, to help the needy people," Bogue said of her task. "That's where Jesus would be and that's where He wants us to be, right out there helping people."

Faithfully on each Thursday morning, Bogue and Allen use their break time at work to make 36 sandwiches. The women then use their lunch break and make quick stops around town, a race against the time clock, to hand out lunches and, at times, clothing.
"It's really a neat thing to do because it feels good to help others," Allen said. "It makes you appreciate what you have when you see others who don't."

Patiently waiting

It's shortly after noon on a Thursday and a light sprinkle begins to fall.

Bogue, Allen and co-worker Christopher Rodgers make a stop at Allan Witt Park, where six homeless folks are gathered around a picnic table. Most know it's peanut butter and jelly day.

"I've been waiting for you lovely ladies to come by," said Thomas James, an older homeless gentleman who scrounges each night to find a place to sleep. He takes the bag, sets it beside him and looks straight at the them. "God bless you and thank you very much."

Further down the park, a homeless woman walks up to the trio as they approach, greets them by name and takes a few bags from them.

"Someone took all our tarps. Do you have any extra plastic or know someone who does? I've been pulling it out of the Dumpster to get ready for the rain," said the red-haired homeless woman to Bogue and Allen.

"We'll see what we can do but we will have some clothes next week," Allen replied. "Do you need blankets?"

Their final stop for the day, as the time quickly approaches 1 p.m., is with 58-year-old Steve Campbell, who sits in front of a driveway on Beck Avenue holding a sign that reads, "Homeless U.S. Army Vet needs help. God Bless."

A cigarette dangles from his lips, occasionally removed by weathered hands. A shopping cart, filled with a sleeping bag, newspapers and clothing, sits beside him.

"I get my meals from them every week," he said as a heavy cough escapes. "I'll take whatever I can get."

Campbell admits he doesn't worry about lunch on Thursdays because he knows the ladies will come by with a brown bag.

"I look forward to it," he said and again coughs as he raises his sign to a passing car.


Although the ladies pay for most of the lunch items themselves, they receive donations from co-workers and others who know of their deed.

"We've been blessed lately, as people come to us with donations, and it's wonderful," Bogue said. "But sometimes it's hard."

Bogue admits there are times when money is tight and the thought of stopping their work crosses her mind. But it's at those times, she said, when a sign appears to them.

"We've been tempted to stop because something will happen and that's when we get a blessing with something that keeps us going," Bogue said. "It's our sign, like 'Here's the stuff you'll never have to worry about.' God takes care of us."

Bogue and Allen's charity mission is not county-related and is performed during personal time, said Chris Gabriel, accounting supervisor in the Solano County Auditor's Office. He supports the ladies and respects their determination.

"I think it's great to help others and think of others because we could be there someday," Gabriel said, who calls them her angels. "But this is the way these ladies are. It's their work, their life and the way they live."

Weeks later, a heavy rain prevents Bogue and Allen from giving out brown-bagged lunches and donated items.

"I have a trunk filled with presents that we'll have to give out next week," Allen said. She then laughs before adding, "I think we'll continue doing this until God says not to anymore."