Monday, January 19, 2009

Day of Service

In Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy, today was declared a national day of service in the United States. My community had a major program going to support it. My partner and I contributed to this event by collecting non-perishable food items for a local food bank. Unfortunately, since the economy is so bad, donations to the food bank have fallen off considerably.

Last week, I made a few phone calls, and got my legion of "elder buds" organized to donate some canned goods. I asked them to leave them at their door and we would come by to pick them up today. By yesterday evening, I had logged over 100 places to stop. Fortunately, I invited a couple of friends who offered to help pick up the donations since there's no way I could have made all those stops myself (even with my partner's help).

My partner has a unique relationship with a major grocery chain. We asked them to help out, and that they did. We collected a bunch of boxes of perfectly good but unsaleable food, including canned soup, boxed foods and cereals, and a lot of other stuff. We were there at 6am this morning, and we had to come back for a second load since we couldn't pack all of it into my truck. We dropped off the second load to the food bank by 8am.

Then we came home and rested for a bit. By noon, off we went again. My friends had collected about half of the donations on my list, and met us for lunch at a nearby café. The list seemed to have expanded. They told me that they showed up at one place, and found bags from nearby residences waiting as well. When they thought they might have one bag to pick up, they had 3...or 5... or in one case, 10.

My partner and I found the same. Everywhere we went, we found many more donations than expected. The generosity was overwhelming, and very gratifying. The look on the faces of the people at the food bank was great to see.

We went back and forth, between pickups, dropoffs, and home in between. All-in-all, the Food Bank folks told us that we hauled in over 2,100 items. I'm happy to have been a part of providing essential service to our community. But man oh man, am I BEAT!

Oh, what did I wear? Tall Wesco Haness boots, brown leather jeans, and layers up top (t-shirt, flannel shirt, sweater, coat). It was cold out, but doing all that work made me sweat a bit, so I was constantly taking off my jacket, removing a layer, and putting it back on. Oh well, I was comfortable. (And nope, no one said a thing about the leather jeans or the boots, except one cute little old lady who said, "those boots look big. I mean really big!" I just laughed, and thanked her for her donation).

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