I saw a post about a local church that was holding a food drive for a local non-profit that provides food and clothing for those in need in my small, coastal South Carolina community. I was familiar with the organization and we love their story. We have donated to them many times in the past.
The need for their services has only increased over the last several months as the disruption of Covid19 and other issues have enveloped society. I decided to get my weekend started by running to the store to buy a bunch of canned goods for the food drive. I was out the door early.
I filled up six grocery bags of canned meats and veggies and headed to the drop off point fueled with a sense of pride and purpose. I am not a church-goer and was not familiar with that church by name, but I knew the area and was sure I would find it without a problem.
As I got into this area of town, I noticed signs, traffic, and people in masks. I was sure I had found the spot. As I pulled close, I saw a man directing traffic and asked if the lines were for the food bank at the church. He told me it was. I asked how to get in line and he directed me to pull around the block. I did.
About halfway around the block, it was bumper to bumper traffic. I was inspired and felt a surge of pride in the people of my little town and the unity in our shared cause. I continued creeping along and slowly came to the intersection where a long line of cars let me in. I was now in the homestretch heading to the church.
A few hundred yards before the entrance, there was a woman in a mask and she handed me a sheet of paper as she directed me across a lot toward the church entrance. I read the sheet of paper in stunned disbelief.
That sheet of paper informed me that I was in a line for food box distribution and the traffic was caused by people picking up, not dropping off. It took a minute for me to process the magnitude of my misunderstanding.
I went up to the man who had originally directed me around the block and asked for clarity. He reinforced that this location was a distribution point. We apologized to one another over our mutual confusion and he directed me to head back down the main street where I had seen the long line of cars.
From this perspective, I could see that the line went on for as far as I could see. There were hundreds of cars in the pickup line. The other church was along the same route, on the same street, and I felt disoriented as I headed the other direction, passing car after car.
When I got to the drop-off point, I pulled in. There were several volunteers ready to help me unload my bags and load them into their donation van. They thanked me and I thanked them, and, as I left, I continued past that line of people collecting their family food boxes. It was over a mile long, in my small town.
I read later that this was part of a larger food box project and these boxes were available for (only) the first 1,000 families. I also learned that the food charity that I was donating to does their own family box distribution once a month and five pallets of food are distributed in three hours each time. This is in addition to their daily operations and these other donation sites.
Until I witnessed this firsthand, there was simply no way for me to truly comprehend it. The magnitude of the cause in today’s world is almost overwhelming. The need has always been there, and, after many months of Covid and disruption, more members of our community than ever are hungry.
Since Saturday morning, the guilt I have felt for my lack of understanding has been replaced with a determination to focus on how I can be part of the solution.
I encourage everyone to please do what you can, wherever you live in the world.
It is time for us to come together as a community in more ways than ever. The next time (and every time) you go shopping, grab an extra can of something and, once a week, drop it by your favorite local food charity.
Here are two charities that TUT supports and donates to. If you feel inclined you can also make a donation here:
Feeding America: Click here to help our brothers and sisters without FOOD.
Charity Water: Click here to help our brothers and sisters without WATER.
If you are inspired to do even more, please share your ideas in the comments below. Let’s combine our ideas and passion, and together create a movement that changes the world.
I view this experience as a calling for me to honor my personal journey. I look forward to hearing from you.
Peace and love to all.