Posted: March 9, 2013 at 2:42 a.m.

DEAR HELOISE: Here in Ohio, neighbors and friends take food to the family’s home when there is a death. There was enough food within two days to overflow three refrigerators.

All was greatly appreciated. However, adding to the stress was the additional kitchen duty of cleaning baked-on foodstuff, and dishes and pans we had to try to label for return. Also, “helpers” may not be able to properly label dishes. People called in three weeks wanting to know if we had their dish, the lid was missing when a dish was returned, or they received a dish that was not theirs. This certainly adds to stress.

It would be helpful when you want to help to:

Call to determine if food is needed. Maybe in a couple of weeks, the family would really appreciate a prepared meal, a sack of groceries, or to be taken out for a bite to eat. Kindnesses can be extended for a month or two.

Take food only in disposable containers.

A wonderful friend brought a supply of disposable cups and glasses, dessert and dinner plates, soup bowls, forks and spoons, napkins, paper towels, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, food and kitchen garbage bags.

A neighbor volunteered to have a supply of ice cubes ready for use.

Frozen foods (pizza, lasagna, etc.), if not immediately needed, can be put in a freezer for later.

Hope these help.

  • B.B., Ohio

DEAR READER: Your suggestions will most surely help many people who want to do “something” but aren’t sure what to bring. In our girlfriend circle, I’m the one who brings the paper products (including toilet paper!) and keeps the kitchen trash from overflowing. Others bring ice and soft drinks, and we each have a role checking the bathroom, picking up cups and plates, etc. You are absolutely right: These efforts probably are welcome a few months later, and maybe even more so. There are only so many pies, cakes and cookies that can be consumed.

DEAR READERS: A reader in Mobile, Ala., sent a photo of her adorable salt-and-pepper miniature schnauzer puppy, named Maggie. The reader says the puppy likes to wear ribbons in her hair, was named after a popular song and has her own social-media page. To see Maggie, go to and click on “Pets.”

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000;fax to (210) 435-6473; or e-mail

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