Today is one of those days that I am so proud to be the director of The Family Center, I am so proud to be with this wonderful organization. Today was a mobile food pantry day.
Let me set this up for you. 20,000 pounds of food comes from a food bank in Nashville called Second Harvest. The semi truck of food costs agencies $3,000.00 (our grant allowed us to pay only $500.00) but the value of the food on the truck is over $33,000.00. We have an hour to unload pallets full of canned food, produce, bread and snacks and be prepared to distribute it to approximately 288 families that have been patiently waiting before we even get there. We start the day at 6:30 in the morning and usually end at 2:00 in the afternoon. We have to borrow shopping carts, tables, trailers, shopping bags and muscles. By the end of the day we are exhausted.
But I would do it again tomorrow if I could. I cannot express through this blog what this food means to these families. We load up shopping carts full of food they could never afford on their own…. and it is good food! We gave out mangos and pineapples to people who had never eaten them before. Peanut butter, rice, beans, oatmeal! Every family got two bags of REAL Oreos!!!! We take the food to cars that are held together with wire and duct tape and pray for them and their families. We get tears of joy, hugs of gratitude and we love every minute of it.
I took a moment today and surveyed the giveaway and thanked God for every bit of it. I saw little old ladies with curly blue hair lifting heavy cases of peanut butter to be opened for our families. Manicured business owners sitting in the dirty parking lot bagging tomatoes and onions to be distributed. Staff doing everything they could to make people smile and laugh and thank them for their help. Directors of other agencies breaking down boxes and talking with our families. People who got in line to get their food but then turned around and volunteered to serve others. Board members picking up trash and pushing carts of food. The line for the giveaway wrapped around Riverside United Methodist Church of Columbia but the people were patient, kind and had faces of gratitude. Some had been there since 11:00 the night before but patiently waited for the bounty we were unwrapping before them.
Tears welled in my eyes, I got that annoying lump in my throat I tried hard to swallow down. Even as I type this, my eyes are blurry. We served so many today, in so many different ways and I will carry these blessings with me for a long time.
We only do these giveaways twice a year because of the cost. There are other agencies in town who also do mobile food pantries and we share their blessings with those that we serve. I would love to do more.
While we didn’t feed 5,000 today and I won’t even begin to compare what we do to the wonderful story in the bible, I think the spirit of that story was with us today. We fed those that we have been called to serve, we gave with our hearts, with the faith we have in God and the love we have for his people. Our cups runneth over today and I am forever grateful to those that helped us do it.
We closed the Family Center early today; while our souls are full, our muscles are drained. I know each staff person and volunteer will go home and reflect on today and what we did; how we put over $33,000.00 in to this community in about 4 hours. How the food we gave out today will nourish the bodies of so many and like me, how they are grateful to be a part of every bit of it.
I am so grateful for today, for who we are and what we do for this community.
This is service… this is what we do… this is Maury.