This past Sunday, from 1 to 3, I was outside Stop & Shop, handing out lists of things needed by the Wilton Interfaith Food Pantry. Kiwanis does these food pantry collections regularly and it really helps.

“We’re trying to fill shelves of the Wilton Food Pantry while you shop!” was my plea as I handed lists to people. Along with the rain, there was a pretty steady stream of shoppers and it’s always interesting to observe the way different people respond. Eight out of 10 take the list. Some even say thanks when they read it and take it into the store.

I noticed  something. The shoppers who came out of the store without having bought anything for the food pantry looked grim. They actually looked unhappy, a little ashamed as they walked past me without a blink of eye contact.

What a shame. All they had to do was buy a box of oatmeal or a few rolls of toilet paper and they’d have felt better. I started wondering if there’s a gene for generosity and cheerfulness and a different gene for frugality and resentment. One gentleman carefully explained that his wife was head of a charitable organization in New Canaan and that was his main concern. But 40 minutes later he came back.

“What I did really bothered me,” he said. “I’m going back to shop for some things for the pantry.” He had a broad smile on his face when he piled some bags into the basket for the pantry.

One thing that two-hour shift on a nasty day did for me. I’ll always take a food bank or food pantry list and I’ll always find something to contribute. I want that warm, comfortable feeling from the generosity gene that can come from the smallest, simplest purchase. In case you’d like it, too, here’s what’s needed now (and there’s always a Kiwanis collection box at Stop & Shop).

Paper goods: towels, tissues, toilet paper.  Toothpaste, toothbrushes, sunscreen for kids, soap, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, oatmeal, school snacks. Different needs for different times. Canned fruits and vegetables are not needed at this time. Dishwashing liquid or liquid body wash, yes! Puts a smile on your face and theirs.