I used to do a gratitude thing every Friday and I've gotten myself off blog habits lately. Maybe it's just been enough trying to write every now and then so you don't think I've completely disappeared. But I always loved doing these posts, and especially now when all the political drama in this country is focused on what we don't have, it's good to remember the good things.
And in the spirit of "It isn't all about me," this post isn't about what I have that I'm grateful for, although indirectly, it does shed light on that as well.
Last week, our local ACTS food pantry, a non-profit charity organization in our community that provides food for about 4,000 individuals a month who otherwise would not have food, shut down for the first time in years. Their shelves were bare.
This is the picture from the video they took when they sent out the announcement that they were shutting their doors for two weeks, hoping to acquire enough food in that time to reopen.
ACTS stands for Action in the Community Through Service. And that is what happened.
In a flurry of social media, word spread. Within hours, businesses like local appliance stores and organizations like kid swim teams and churches began collection sites for food. Before school let out for the day I received calls from my kids' elementary and middle schools asking for donations. You could literally sit and watch facebook or twitter and see the action taking place.
In less than three days, over $60,000 and 12,000 pounds of food had arrived at their doorstep. So much that they didn't have room for it all and had to use an empty tractor trailer to hold the extra.
The outpouring of relief came so fast and furiously, ACTS had to put out another plea for help: volunteers to help stock the shelves and bag food for needy families. And that, like the money and food, came all too willingly as well.
In less than a week, the pantry re-opened with $120,000 and 30,000 pounds of food donations.
Did the government do that? No. The people of this community did that. Individuals and small businesses. Kids. The elderly. Students. People with a lot to spare. And people with just a box of macaroni. People who couldn't spare food, but could spare their time.
Today, in my community, people are eating who otherwise would be hungry.
I'm overwhelmed by this. But not surprised. Because I think most people are really generous at heart, really do want to help people, but often don't know how. I think, when no government will step in, the people do.
(As an aside, my husband, who works for the government, dryly commented that if it were up to the government to fill the food bank, it would have taken six months of red tape and bureaucratic wrangling to make it happen.)
I could make a political statement out of this, but I'll leave it at this:
Last week, the shelves were empty.
This week, because of the generosity of hundreds of people like you and me, they are not.
Because one person gave one box of mac and cheese, one child will not go to bed hungry tonight.
And the person who gave that food had benefited in ways that will never show up in a checkbook.