Kelli brought her children with her to work at food bank*



I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy. - Rabindranath Tagore
My service project was to work at a food donation center, helping families put food on their tables in a time of need. I chose to volunteer at the donation center because we tend to take so many things for granted. We tend to forget about the struggles of others because it is “not our problem”. In my opinion, this is why our great nation is in the trouble we are now. We have lost the love for our neighbors and been taken over my greed and entitlement. Every day I open my refrigerator and know that there will be food to feed my family. I am grateful that I have never endured starvation or the hurt of my children being hungry. I work hard every day, working 40 hours, raising 3 boys, being a wife, mother, co-worker and going to school, it is exhausting. I have blamed others and pointed my finger saying they need make their own way but what I forget is, this is not my job. I should be lead to be a servant, to others, without judgement. You never know what someone else is going through and how a kind smile, helping hand or thoughtful word could make a huge difference.
As we woke up our 2 children the day started slow, with no motivation and probably a little resentment of spending our Saturday working in the heat. We traveled a pretty good way to a small church that my friend attends. It is a small church, built by hand with the love and strength of the congregation over months of hard labor. We pull in and meet many other smiling faces, this was a little odd to my boys as waking up this early to work does not put a smile on their faces. We are greeted and continuously told how much our help is appreciated. We loaded what seemed like a million bags and boxes of all different types of food into our cars. Their system was well organized and stream lined as we packed everything up to bring it to the school. Those same smiling faces were still excited and ready to move to our next stop. My boys still not so thrilled, were now sweaty and tired but I think a little happier. I really think most of it was that the joyful attitudes were just contagious!!
We arrive at the school and the line had already begun. I am amazed at the faces and I think the boys were too. The faces so similar to our own, the faces that you see every day and would never know that their pantries may be bare. There were so many things to be done, yet everyone never lost those smiles. The morning passed so quickly and the enormous amount of food was gone in what seemed like minutes. We worked with my friends niece’s, they were sweet and funny and helped us putting things were they need to go quickly, so that everyone got what they needed. I was amazed that every month most of the same people gather and use their time, gas, and energy to give so much for so many. The people moved through the line, gathering food and were so grateful. There were people of all races, young and old, some with children and some just by themselves. In the background our little ones had lost interest in preparing the bags and had started to play and sing. There was no fighting, no hitting and no arguing. The love that was pouring out this morning was infectious and I wished I could bottle it up and take it home. As we finally finished with the last few bags, I looked around and no one was rushing to their cars, everyone still had those smiling faces, a little sweatier now, but still smiling. I know that handing a bag of food to someone is far from actually changing someone life but it is the connection with others that sometimes moves us beyond words. I have volunteered in many ways and felt the joy that builds in your heart with giving unconditionally. I have seen a remarkable change by just the love that a person can show another, how it breaks down walls and bring people together. At the end of the day, the most rewarding part was hearing one of my boys say “Mom that was fun, we should do it again”. Yeah, I can tell you that I was holding back tears as I drove that kid home.