Delivering comfort: Just do it

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Bringing food to family and friends in need is a time-honored tradition. Whether they are coping with the aftermath of the storm, illness or are up all night with a newborn, it's heartening to know someone is thinking about them. Mac 'n' cheese does wonders for the worried soul.

If you're worrying about what to prepare and how it should be delivered, stop it right now. To steal a well-worn advertising phrase, just do it. Your efforts will be appreciated immensely.

The truth is, most people are happy that you've made the effort. And make no mistake, the effort doesn't need to be home-cooked. Gift cards and takeout are worthy offerings.

Here's a little advice, though, to make the food offering go smoothly:

*Don't bug the recipients with a lot of questions about what the family likes to eat. If you really don't know, talk to someone who knows them better. Otherwise, make or bring something simple. Who doesn't love chicken soup? It's just really nice if they don't have to decide what dinner and dessert will be.

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*Deliver food in disposable containers or ones that the recipient can keep. Somebody who is preoccupied with challenges doesn't need to worry about returning your favorite baking dish or Bundt pan.

*Don't plan on spending a lot of time visiting when you deliver the food. Seriously, showers might have been scarce and the house could be in disarray. Your job is to provide comfort, not to make your friend feel like she needs to clean house. Call to say you're coming and then do the hand-off at the front door. Don't feel bad if you're not invited in.

*Remember, a show of kindness in the form of a hot meal is as good as a spoonful of sugar. That old saw about the thought being the most important thing is really true.

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