Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Calm before the...Controlled Chaos

This is 18th year Second Harvest has facilitated the Itasca Holiday Program. By now, we are, as they say, a well-oiled machine. We feel confident that everything is ready to go and should go off without a hitch. Of course we have planned for any possible hiccups we may encounter along the way.

The food boxes are prepped and ready to be delivered to seven distribution sites, other than Second Harvest. Toys are being dropped off and sorted, lists are being compiled, gift bags are labeled, inserts and grocery store vouchers are printed. Tomorrow the fruit will be bagged and all remaining toys will be sorted. Saturday we will have all of the gifts sorted and selected for each individual child. Because we ordered pre-packed food boxes this year, we will all get a day of rest on Sunday! Yay!

The controlled chaos (distribution of the food boxes and gifts) will begin on Monday in Squaw Lake, Taconite, and Keewatin. It will continue Tuesday in Bigfork, Hill City, and Inger and wrap up with distribution in Deer River and Grand Rapids on Wednesday.

We call it, controlled chaos, because we have a very efficient system in place for distribution in Grand Rapids. We have a drive-thru option for those just picking up a food box, fruit bag, and grocery store voucher which takes place in our parking lot. We direct those who are receiving gifts for children into the warehouse to pick up their gift bags along with their food box, fruit bag and voucher. Our fingers are crossed in hopes that Mother Nature will be good to us during distribution.

Many plates would be bare, and stockings empty, if it wasn't for all of the hard work by so many individuals. It is a huge collaborative effort by our staff, volunteers, donors, local businesses, schools, civic groups, churches, and social workers.

And in the end it is all very worth it. I can assure you there will be tears of joy and appreciation, smiles of delight, and happy hearts - mine included.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Tale of Two Men

This is the season of sharing and kindness. We hear about it everywhere. We read about it everywhere. But, to see it first hand is a very inspiring thing. We are so fortunate to live in such a kind and caring community, but like other things, it is easy to take it for granted. Today, two men reminded me what kindness and compassion are all about.

Man # 1 - This morning we were paid a visit by a local elementary school principal. He came to the Food Shelf seeking food for the family of one of his students. It only came to his attention that this family was in need because the child fainted at school this morning. The child was so hungry that he/she was physically ill. Being a mother of an elementary age child myself, I cannot begin to imagine my child going so hungry.

We sent the principal back to school with food for the family and signed the child up for the Kids Pack to Go BackPack Program, ensuring he/she would get a little extra over the weekends. Before he left the principal insisted on making a personal donation to "cover the cost" of the food provided to this family in need. Now if you ask me, that is going above and beyond.

Man # 2 - As the workday was winding down we were paid a visit by a gentleman carrying a box of toys. As we are in the middle of collecting toys for the Itasca Holiday Program, this is not an uncommon sight to see. However, it did not stop with one box of toys, nor two, nor three. This gentleman and his wife purchased SIX boxes full of toys! We were overjoyed and touched by their generosity.

Now, if you have shopped for a toy for a child recently you know, or have found out the hard way, that just about every toy made these days needs batteries which are almost always "not included". Not only did this couple purchase several hundreds of dollars worth of toys, they took the time to attache the required about and size battery to every single toy they donated. He did not leave his name, and did not want any special recognition for his kind act.

My heart is still smiling from the selflessness and kindness of these two men.