The World's Poorest Philanthropist

By Mike Bush

St. Louis (KSDK)- Three days a week, Cindy Ewing sows the seeds of appreciation.

"BJC is like a small family, "she says.

She comes to work at BJC Medical Group in West St. Louis County with bags of fresh vegetables.

"I like to look for the special items, "laughs a co-worker.

Everything from Tomatoes to pickled Jalapenos free for the taking.

The roots of all that goodness come from the soil of a backyard garden in Ballwin.

"Four days a week and it takes about 6 hours of real work, "says the gardener.

Tilling and Toiling is Cindy's husband Harold Ewing. The plot may be small but the harvest sure isn't.

"Bell Peppers, Sweet peppers, Italian green beans, " he shows us.

Gardens need water and this one started with tears.

"The house wasn't burned to the ground but it was gutted, "recalls Cindy.

Several years ago, the Ewings lost all their possessions in a fire. Cindy was especially worried because Harold is disabled after getting ill in the Army.

"The feeling in the pit of your stomach is what are you going to do, "she says.

Help, it turned out was just a cubicle away.

"She's a great co-worker, "says Rebecca Ruck who also works in health records. "She will go the extra mile. She really will do anything for anybody."

"Some people went out and got donations, "recalls colleague Debbie Kneemiller. "I got on the phone and called previous co-workers and said here's what's going on can you help?"

Cindy's colleagues at BJC Medical Group collected enough gift cards and donations to get the Ewings back on their feet.

"It made the difference on whether or not we could go on, "says Cindy.

And so as the Ewing's tried to forget the fire, they never forgot the kindness of Cindy's co-workers.

"That was an act of grace. That touched me deeply, "says Harold.
So now on the employee desks here at BJC you'll find files, a computer and usually an eggplant.

With regular special deliveries from Harold's garden, the office lunch room often looks like the produce aisle at the local grocery store. Workers come in and the vegetables go out.

And what do they think of Harold's gardening skills?

"Wonderful, I get to reap the benefits, "laughs Ruck.

Cultivating crops takes great care, for the garden and sometimes the gardener.

"You never know what your actions might mean to somebody and how they might come back to you."


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