Have you ever thought about what it must feel like to go hungry? Not the stomach growling, I’m craving a bag of chips kind of hungry – but the feeling like your navel is touching your backbone kind of empty gnawing ache kind of hungry. I know that I have never experienced that kind of hunger in my lifetime.
Nor have I ever, not once, worried about whether or not I had enough food in my house to feed my daughter or myself. Even when I was maxing out my credit card to pay for groceries and working two jobs to keep up with the bills, I somehow, almost instinctively, knew that if I really truly got in a bind I had family and friends I could call upon for help. Looking back, I probably should have cried “Uncle” and asked for help a few times along the way – but I suppose if I am to be honest about it, pride kept me from doing so.
But never having experienced the pain – and by pain I mean the actual physical pain – of hunger, does not prevent me from having empathy and compassion for those who have. When I read a quote from a 16 year old child – and yes, at 16 he is still just a child – about the hunger in his stomach speaking louder than the teacher standing before him, it literally makes my heart ache.
When I see the smile on the face of seniors as they make their way through the mobile pantry line to pick up several bags of food, I find myself wondering what kind of life they led before they ended up living alone and dependent upon others for food. Someday, when I have the time, I would love to visit with those seniors, hear their stories and let them know that they still matter.
We are all put on this earth to make a difference in each other’s lives. I believe, through whatever small part I can play in the good work being done by the Regional Food Bank, I will be able to say at the end of my life that I have made a difference along the way.
I know there are children and seniors out there who have been given hope and had their dignity restored because someone cared enough to provide them food when they needed it most– without them ever having to cry “Uncle.”
I’m grateful to be a part of such an amazing organization whose mission is simply “Fighting Hunger…Feeding Hope.” I hope you will all take time to do something to make a difference in the life of a hungry Oklahoman.
Ok, so I admit that I am not prone to writing blogs. Nor do I claim to have any great writing skills worthy of anyone reading what I have to say. But as I reflect upon what happened last week, I am compelled to share some of my thoughts with you.
Big Truck Tacos Volunteer Night was at the Food Bank on Tuesday, July 27th and we are still reeling from the response. Who knew the power of tacos over the general population? Seriously.
We’ve tried a dozen different ways to attract new volunteers to the Food Bank over the last few years – and we’ve been lucky if a dozen or so people showed up to see our colorful balloons and eat our cake and cookies. We were thinking prim and proper – when, what the people wanted was a big, bodacious taco night.
More than 400 people showed up – and not just to satisfy their craving for an Okie-Baha, Wojo or Flaming Lips taco. They actually wanted to work! Two young men actually refused to leave the assembly line long enough to grab a taco despite my pleading and cajoling (ok, pleading and cajoling is probably a slight exaggeration – but I did remind them that the taco truck would have to leave eventually whether they ate or not).
By the time the night was over, we had a whole new group of volunteers who left with a full stomach and an even fuller heart. They enjoyed a great meal courtesy of BTT and discovered that it only takes a couple of hours to make a huge difference in the lives of their Oklahoma neighbors in need.
So, thank you Big Truck Tacos for donating your time and your tacos and reminding us all about what a powerful influence food is in our lives. In more ways than one.
Did you notice I didn’t even mention that it was our own Taco Tuesday?
You’d think that, because I spend about 60 hours a week at the Food Bank already, that I wouldn’t want to spend my “off time” anywhere near the place, right? As it so happened, I scheduled our entire department to spend a few hours in the Volunteer Center helping assemble emergency family boxes recently without realizing the date was going to fall right in the middle of my vacation week.
Granted, I could have played the vacation card, but every time I thought about it, I kept hearing this voice in my head say, “hunger doesn’t take a vacation.” And, so I did what thousands of others do every year – I donated some of my time to volunteer at the Food Bank.
I have to tell you, it was probably one of the most rewarding days I’ve had in a while. Seriously. Not only did I get to do some physical labor for a change (rather than working at my computer all day), I also met some of the most wonderful people! There was a hard working group from Chapel Hill Methodist Church who shared their secret for staying young: keep busy by volunteering! There were youth groups, senior groups, families and individuals who read about the need for volunteers in the newspaper and just showed up to help.
There were volunteers as young as 8 and as old as 80. Some couldn’t lift, but they could work an assembly line; some couldn’t stand, but they could put labels on boxes; some couldn’t sit still, but they could run around and pick up cardboard boxes and tear them down for recycling! In short, there was something for everyone and everyone served a purpose. It was like a well-oiled machine.
Joe, Liz, Jackie, Jamie, Dan and all the rest of the crew that run the Volunteer Center every day deserve a standing O. Or at least, a standing “Oh My!” It’s amazing the amount of work that goes into preparing, coordinating, training and overseeing volunteers from all walks of life, all ages and all skill levels. Somehow, they seem to pull it off and, in the end, we all went home tired, but feeling like we had truly made a difference in someone’s life. It doesn’t get much better than that.
As for me – I may make this part of my vacation every year.
5:01 PM on Tuesday, March 30th, 20101 Comment
10:35 AM on Wednesday, March 17th, 2010No Comments
Check out this video about the Food Bank, which is currently featured on Cox Communications!