Today, I was one of about 50 volunteers who helped to distribute food, clothing and toys and serve lunch to about 250 people who are clients of the St. Andrew’s (Brampton, Ontario) Food Cupboard. A variety of circumstances bring people to the point of needing a food bank. Whether it is job loss, inadequate social assistance, addiction issues, unexpected medical costs, every client has a different story to tell. Whatever the reason, they need food and St. Andrew’s Food Cupboard gives food to those who need it. Many lined up outside two hours before lunch was to be served. Because it was so cold today, we invited people to enter the sanctuary to keep warm while waiting for lunch. They were each given a number so they could keep their place in line for lunch and for distribution of groceries.
By 9:30 a.m. a hive of activity swarmed the Great Hall, as we put tablecloths on the tables, put out the plates, cutlery, napkins. In the kitchen we prepared huge basins of salads, buttered many dozens of rolls, heated pots of chili and soup, boiled hot dogs and warmed shepherd pies and lasagnas. I stopped counting when there were 25 lasagnas in the oven and warming ovens. We put homemade cookies on trays, cut up cakes and placed them on the serving tables.
While all this was going on, other volunteers were shopping for things like fresh bread and eggs. Some were preparing portions of groceries bought in bulk. Others arranged baby food, bread, rolls and a variety of canned goods, and some fresh vegetables on tables.
We served lunch to about 75 people at a time until everyone was fed. After each sitting we invited clients to go upstairs where there was a supervised activity room for small children. Parents then collected their week’s food, a gift for a child and their Christmas dinner fixings. This week in addition to their meager bag of groceries, we also gave a ham or a turkey and a roasting pan to each family. When their bags were full we had prepared a waiting room for clients who needed a ride home.
The volunteers included teenagers and teachers who are off from school this week, shift workers who regularly arrange their schedules to be available on Food Cupboard day, many retired people and seniors from our own congregation and others from local churches. Thanks to the experience of several veteran volunteers things went smoothly. I knew some of the volunteers and met others for the first time today. The spirit of cooperation and helpfulness warmed our hearts and souls. We had fun working together knowing that what were doing a worthwhile task.
All that I have is a gift from God – my life and my family, my ability to live and learn. I have ears to listen; I have food to share; I have time and money to give. When I see how blessed I am, I am thankful that I can help in this small way. I am thankful for God’s gift of his Son on that first Christmas Day. Merry Christmas.