This morning I went and helped distribute food at a local food pantry.
I had no idea going in what I would be doing, I had never done anything like this before. I've been wanting to for a while, after I read in our local weekly paper that they do distributions every weekend. I had called them a while back, but the lady never got back to me, but this week I was able to reach someone and made arrangements to go volunteer this morning.
We served 50 families today. With an average of 3 members per family (some had more, some less, but averaged out to 3 per family), that's 150 people served out of this itty bitty food pantry. Just today. In three hours. In a town with a population of approximately 12,000 people.
It was a very rewarding, yet humbling experience to say the least.
There were a few people there that you could tell were the "abusers" of the system, but the majority of the people that received food today were so gracious. You could tell they didn't like having to come to the pantry, they were proud people, but the gratitude that exuded from them was just overwhelming. You hear of the hungry and the needy in the news and in the paper, but most of us (I'm guilty of it as well) don't give them a second thought on a daily basis. We all drop a can or two into the food donation box at the store or church or school without thinking what kind of impact it really makes. Until you see them. Until you look into the downcast eyes filled with an odd mixture of pride and pain and defeat and hope. Until the young widow with three teenage boys who lost her job takes your hand and tells you "God bless you"...
You just don't know.
I spent most of the day after I left in a pensive state. The only thought that kept running through my head was "There but for the grace of God..."
It truly brought into perspective many things in my life. Sure, Matt and I struggle some. We live paycheck to paycheck. We don't have money to take vacations or buy new cars or pay for fertility treatments or adoption. We don't wear fancy clothes or eat filet mignon every night. We stay in and watch movies on Netflix rather than going out to the theater. We hang out in the bookstore for entertainment instead of partying it up in a nightclub.
We have a home.
We have food.
I have a job (and hopefully he will too soon!)
We have running water.
We have air conditioning, electricity, and heat.
We have vehicles that run and get us where we need to go.
We don't wonder where our next meal is going to come from or if we will freeze to death in our sleep.
We have each other.
And for these things I thank God.
And for these reasons I will continue to serve God and give thanks for my blessings by taking 3 hours out of my Saturday mornings to give to those less fortunate.