I spent the morning at the Loaves and Fishes food pantry yesterday. This was my 4th year volunteering for the Thanksgiving distribution, and it was clearly their most served. At the start of the morning, the Head Food Coordinator Paul Niemira spoke briefly to let us know the pantry had one of their busiest food drop offs in years. Initially, the pantry was low on turkeys and worried they wouldn't be able to serve all the families in need. Through the power of social media and word of mouth, 800 turkeys were donated and they actually had to TURN AWAY turkeys. They are now all set for their Christmas distribution as well!
Loaves and Fishes does a great job organizing holiday distributions for their families. They, as opposed to many food pantries, allow their families to “shop” for their meal, rather than handing out preselected items. Each family walks through the pantry with a volunteer as they select vegetables, fixings, sides, bread, juice, and, of course, pie. Volunteers are stationed along the way to assist in the process. This year I was the “pie lady” and had the pleasure of watching each face light up as I opened the freezer filled with a wide variety of pies.
As I stood there and accepted “thank you's" from men, women and children of all ages, I began to reflect on my own life. I didn't know their financial situation, or why they needed the services of the pantry, but they were there graciously thanking me for my time. Some look you straight in the eye and some look at the floor; I can imagine that it must be very difficult for some families to accept assistance.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year and I'm grateful to have the opportunity to help the 203 families that visited the pantry that morning. Even if I wasn’t able to contribute financially, I was able to give my time to make their holiday a little brighter. At this time of year, we often get wrapped up in the “hoopla”. I try not to get too engulfed in the commercialism and really think about what the holidays mean to me and focus on the things I'm thankful for in my life. I'm thankful that my husband Marc and I have the means to provide a warm home and delicious food for our little family—we may not have it “all”, but luckily, we have enough. I'm also thankful for having a boss like Brent who encourages all of us to take time from our work week to volunteer. It's nice to work for someone who cares about his employees, their families and the lives of others.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!