First, “No good deed goes unpunished.”
On a rainy afternoon in 2005, then-Sen. Barack Obama and his campaign staffers collected food, warm clothing and other goods at a food bank in St. Louis to hand out to poor and disabled people. The bags of goods already contained enough for 100 families.
As the boxes were being loaded onto a truck, the manager of the food bank asked if they could add more food. Biden joined the others in the parking lot, concerned that the deal struck with the donors might not stand. They couldn’t seem to find the manpower to lift or unload the carts full of goodie bags, and it looked like it would all have to be thrown away.
But the food bank’s executive director sat down with Senator Biden and came up with a plan. “He said, ‘Well, if I can think of something, we could put these in the back of a big truck and take them back to D.C.,’” then-White House aide Rick Warren remembered in his autobiography.
The hope was that this piece of good government would pass. When Mr. Biden told staff members what he had been told, they were thrilled.
“How many millions of people have been empowered by 10 years of seeing you do this?” President Obama said, according to Mr. Warren. “How many more millions will be empowered by it?”
So what did they do? They registered food donors. The box truck drove back to Washington, where an aide of Mr. Biden’s helped load it up. Now 150,000 people had food in their homes.
The experience energized President Obama and Mr. Biden’s office. The two began making the rounds at food banks across the country, doing a great job of informing the public about the work of charity organizations. And they amassed a dossier of memories that they could share, as they campaigned to get things done with Mr. Obama’s narrow majorities in the Senate.