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Start Your New Year By Donating Your Time At A Food Bank
Helping the Less Fortunate
For some unknown reason, I spent a lot of time this holiday season trying to learn from the messages of Jesus and comparing them to Buddhist philosophy. I love the Christmas season, but really don't care for the commercialism starting at Halloween, which is why I spent a lot of time making my own gifts. I also am a huge environmentalist, and I am keen on recycling to preserve this planet, and in CA, not to see good recycle tax money go to waste. I recall a year ago we assisted the Veterans for Peace on Sunday by helping them put away symbolic crosses that were staked on the beach to remind tourists about the number of soldiers lost during our recent involvement in the Middle East. I am also part of Martin Luther King Jr. Westside Coalition where we put together a one week celebration and remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his messages of non-violence and volunteerism. However, I felt that I wasn't doing enough to help others.
One of Jesus's message was to help the poor. He helped the poor by multiplying food and giving it away. While we have always donated canned food to food banks, we decided that it would be good for our karma to be more involved than merely putting cans of food in a collection bin. I took the family to the neighborhood food bank called Westside Food Bank in Santa Monica, CA.
When I arrived there, I saw a small warehouse, where the waiting room had dusty books that nobody opened and candy in a holder that looked too old to eat. There were a couple of large checks on display. I had imagined that they were used symbolically to show that a large institution like Wells Fargo donated $50,000 to the food bank in 2010. There was another check from Spin Public Relations showing $17,500, and by putting two and two together, I figured that this was the money raised during the most recent event, a Santa Monica Pub Crawl.There was another display in the form of a check that said that merely $5 would feed 20 people.
A nice worker named Frank greeted us. I showed him the shirt that my son was wearing, which had an advertisement of the one of the Food Bank's past fundraiser, a Hunger Walk. We received this shirt from our last can donation at our food coop, Co-opportunity of Santa Monica. Although the volunteer coordinator had not arrived to show us an introductory video, Frank was nice enough to start us off. The kids had a chance to work the pallet jack and moved a bin of pears to the back of the warehouse. Then, the family was shown how to put a flat box together. We started filling boxes with pear. My husband had the experience of working in a warehouse in high school where he packed goods to be shipped to oil rigs and crew boats. So, he knew without watching the video how to stack boxes so that they would be topple off the pallet. In 2 hours, we packed 64 boxes of pears and clementine oranges (Cuties).
We bent. We sweated. What a workout! Why not do something for the less fortunate and have a great 2-hour workout. We also converted 2 large bins into more useable boxes of fruit to distribute to local food pantries and churches. We walked away from the food bank knowing that the fruits were ready to move. It was such a great experience that we are going every day during the winter break. There are numerous food banks like this one. For one of your New Year's resolution, we encourage you to volunteer your time in addition to donating canned food and non-perishables during this bad economy.