We were asked to come in at 10 am, and as we were hectic in the back, I didn’t get much chance to see the clients.
In the back, the 15 or so folks already at work, were all about getting the job done, and all the while having fun.
The six of us were split into helping with different teams… some working on assembling Seasonal packages… some assembling women’s healthcare packages, and several of us sorting through the cans and foodstuffs that had been donated the previous day.
Then a small schoolbus pulled up to the back door, and the shouts of “DONATION… DONATION…” rang through the back warehouse.
Maple Ridge Secondary School had been accumulating food, in a massive food drive, which culminated in a bunch of students raising awareness and non-perishable food, in front of the local SuperStore. I opened the back door of the truck, to find it was full to the roof. As with every donation of food, every item gets weighed. An hour or so later, we found that the kids and teachers at MRSS had raised over 4500 pounds of food for the food bank, which was a BIG donation.
After unloading the food, it gets processed and then sorted into different categories… Meal in a tin… soup… vegetables… beans… fruit… etc. There were four or five of us working through the huge mountains of boxes, and another similar-sized team working on another donation that had come in from a Corporate sponsor. In the background a small radio was playing pop hits as background noise, and nobody was paying any attention, and suddenly a song caught my attention and suddenly tears were running down my face.
Nickelback’s “When We Stand Together” was playing, and the lyrics stunned me to silence:
They tell us everything’s all right
And we just go along
How can we fall asleep at night
When something’s clearly wrong
When we could feed a starving world
With what we throw away
But all we serve are empty words
That always taste the same
Hey, yeah, yeah, hey, yeah
We must stand together
And, in that moment, it hit me what an amazing experience I was having.
I still don’t know that I can put into words the feeling that came over me… because although I believe I am a spiritual person, as an Agnostic, I don’t consider myself religious. But in THAT moment, I looked around, and saw the many similarities and almost no contrasts.
I was surrounded by a small army of people who were almost all volunteers, who were giving their time and energy to help people who they (mostly) don’t know. We had gathered in a place to work together, with a common purpose, without thought or expectation of glory or benefit… and yet all of us were obviously fueled by the activity we were participating in.
To me, the comparisons to a religious experience were striking.
And, I guess that is why many of the organizations that do “similar” work, are often religion-based. Salvation Army… Samaritan’s Purse…ChildFund International… and many more.
But… that was more an observation and MY personal experience. The Friends In Need Food Bank doesn’t have any religious affiliations, and is just an amazing place that helps people.
I’m going back Thursday, and hope I’ll be better prepared for the overwhelming wave of good feelings, that swept me away last week.
We CAN feed a starving world, with what we throw away.
If you have a pantry full of food, a few extra dollars in your wallet, or a few extra hours in your day, give yourself a Christmas treat, and drop by your local food bank… or even better, arrange to help them.
You’ll get more than you give.
Friends In Need Food Bank is located at #8-22726 Dewdney Trunk Road, Maple Ridge. Their number is 604-466-FOOD
I hope to see you there !!!