Sunday, November 22, 2009

An early giving of thanks...St. Mary's Food Bank

“The giving of love is an education in itself” - Eleanor Roosevelt

It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just next week. On the past 2 Saturdays I've volunteered for St. Mary's Food Bank in Phoenix with my Meetup Group. It has been a nice reminder of just how many things I have to be thankful for this year. For instance, I have food in my pantry and a roof over my head. I'm thankful. Josh and I both have jobs and each other. I'm a part of a meetup group that's only purpose is to volunteer in our community and there are 927 members. Can you imagine? Almost 1000 people that want to give a helping hand. How fantastic is that? I'm thankful! So, last weekend I went to the actual St Mary's warehouse and helped pack overnight food bags on an assembly line. I was the pasteurized milk girl, adding a small carton of milk to each bag as it rolled by. As I worked, I pondered on how thankful I am to live in a country where anyone can find a meal if they need a meal and the big reason why this is possible is places just like this. St. Mary's Food Bank was the very first food bank globally. It was founded by John van Hengel in 1967. Their history is a fascinating story and encourage you to read more about it. "Keeping pace with the incredible upturn in need that has followed the poor economic climate and the huge rise in unemployment and underemployment, the Food Bank will distribute more than 65 million pounds of food in 2008-09 to meets the needs of the ever-rising number of Arizona's hungry - providing enough food into the community to provide nearly 300,000 meals per day."

This weekend I worked at a turkey drive, again for St. Mary's. "Every holiday season the Food Bank distributes thousands of food boxes to Arizona families. These boxes include a turkey and additional holiday food items as a way for families in need to enjoy the holiday season. Last year, the Food Bank distributed nearly 20,000 holiday food boxes." They are expecting to find the community needs to be far greater this year. I learned $.97 to every $1.00 that is donated goes directly to food. Can you believe that? That is efficiency! They are able to do this because of volunteers. In times like these, there are more in need and less from previous years able to give. So it is more important than ever that people volunteer and contribute when they can. The most heart warming moment today goes to a woman who donated 10 turkeys. She explained that she received a Thanksgiving food box last year and that she wanted to return the favor 10 fold. WOW! So, if you have a desire to help after hearing about this neat organization, you can go here to learn more.
Do you know what else I am thankful for? My aunt and my cousin are walking the Breast Cancer 3day this weekend in San Diego. I am so proud of them. I personally know how hard of a walk that is since I participated last year. My cousin posted on facebook, "blisters-check, tears-check, exhaustion-check....day one of the 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk down and I'm ready for bed, only to wake up at 5:30 in the morning and start up again!" Oh, do I remember that pain! I believe that they are still in need of more donations to reach their minimum requirements. They will be finishing up their long and arduous walk today. Congratulations ladies, I am so thankful for you two and proud of the work you have done!

All in all, in these difficult times, I am thankful to see so many people giving so much of themselves, their time, their energy, their funds and food, etc. Being an eternal optimist, I feel like we can make it through anything if we are generous and kind to our neighbors in the process. Giving a helping hand just makes the world a little bit of a nicer place. What are you thankful for this holiday season?

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