Area families break bread together thanks to ‘the bread man’

By on November 6, 2011

Photo: Lee Newtson packs up his car with about 300 loaves of bread donated by The Breadsmith of St. Charles every two weeks. He makes more than 20 stops around the area delivering the loaves to families in need. Photo by Sandy Kaczmarski

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—Every other Monday, Lee Newtson of Sycamore meets his friend Vic DuFour at Papa G’s Restaurant in Elburn. While coffee is usually involved, the purpose for the meetup is to load up Newtson’s car with about 300 loaves of day-old bread for delivery to area families who could use a little help.

For the last several months, Newtson has taken it upon himself to deliver these loaves of bread, making numerous stops from Kaneville to Cortland and back to Sycamore, to help struggling families.

It all started when Vic told him about picking up the bread in the back of The Breadsmith in St. Charles. Owner Guy Greenfield said all the bread is baked fresh daily, so anything not sold is discarded.

“At the end of the day, any remaining stock is made available to help the community,” Greenfield said.

“Vic does four or five runs a week, so I told him let’s try it out,” Newtson said. “We decided every other week. I give three to four loaves of bread to each family.”

Finding those in need wasn’t a problem. Newtson knows a lot of firefighters, and “they know families that need help.” His pastor at Grace Community Fellowship Church in Maple Park knows a few families as well.

“I’ve expanded it as I’ve found out the need for it,” he said.

That includes 17 stops in the trailer park in which he now lives. Newtson tells of a young woman there with three children and a husband working part-time as a bus driver. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Newtson said someone at his church drops off $100 Jewel gift cards in the collection plates. He said he worked it out that the woman with three children gets one and the pastor from his church gives one to another lady with kidney problems.

“It’s not a lot, but it’s something to go on,” Newtson said. “We don’t know who (provides the gift cards), and we’ve never really pursued it. We figure, OK, the Lord’s providing.”

Newtson’s own beginnings relied on the kindness of others. He was orphaned at age 9 months when his parents were killed in a traffic accident. He lived with his grandparents in Big Rock, then the Elburn/Sugar Grove area near Harter Road. His grandmother died while he was in grade school. A stroke took his grandfather when Newtson was just 15.

The Bunce family took him in while he worked various jobs during the day. In the evenings, he helped Chuck Conley run the local ambulance service.

Newtson said Pastor Harper has a little fun when passing out the bread, telling recipients, “the Lord says you can’t survive on bread alone, but here’s a start.” He said he had no idea there would be such a need for something as simple as a loaf of bread.

“I’m sure they can use it, especially if they’ve got kids,” Newtson said. “They meet me at the door and they’re so appreciative. Talk about getting a good feeling.”

Despite having had a five-way bypass, having a pacemaker and stent surgery, Newtson’s attitude remains optimistic, explaining “we’re only on this Earth a short time.”

He’d like to expand the route, but with gasoline costs and being on a fixed income, he’s keeping to his two-week schedule.

“If the Lord wants me to do it, he’ll show me the way,” he said.