Just take it one starfish at a time …

By Molly Veydovec *

Is feeding one person important? Will it even make a difference?

You’ve probably heard one of St. Teresa’s most famous quotes: “If you can’t feed 100, then feed just one.” 

This quote always reminds me of the tale of a man walking down the beach after a storm. There are hundreds and hundreds of starfish lying on the beach. The man carefully places starfish after starfish back into the sea.

Another man approaches and says, “What are you doing? You’ll never save all these starfish.” as he points to the hundreds left still on the beach. “Yes,” replies the rescuer, “but I can help this one.” He smiles and returns another to the vast ocean. 

I suppose there are many who would look at a beach full of starfish and just sigh, overwhelmed, turning away. They are human and easily overwhelmed by all the suffering. They have challenges of their own and when they look out into the world, it seems unlikely they could make a dent

But occasionally, someone comes along. They also sigh at the hurt and suffering in front of them. But, rather than turn away, they take a step closer and start by gently picking up just one starfish at a time

It’s quite similar with hunger, isn’t it? There are so many suffering. We see children in refugee camps, elderly in our own city, students at our local school. It’s overwhelming to say the least. How can we help so many? So often, we push the thought aside because it is just too big. 

I was much the same years ago. I am a sensitive soul and I kicked myself for not doing more. I would wallow, wishing I had become a nurse or gone to school to lead a nonprofit. I felt like I’d missed an opportunity to do something big – and the funny thing was – I missed many opportunities right in front of me to do something small. 

Not anymore. I made a conscious choice to do something. I can’t run the organization, but I can show up once a month and lend a hand. I can’t save every refugee, but I can make an occasional and heartfelt donation. I still ache to think of my own neighbors in need, but I say a prayer as I prepare a bag of groceries for the food bank. 

So, what if those little things ARE the big things? Think of the power of 100 moms’ bags of groceries. Think of a million people each donating $5. 

And most importantly, don’t think of thousands of people who are dealing with hunger and food insecurity.

Think of looking into the face of just one child in need and remember that you can make a difference in their day, in their life, right now.

This holiday season, in light of the year 2020 has been, it might be even more tempting to give in, to feel overwhelmed and throw up your hands. So for now, just take it one starfish at a time. 

If you would like to register as a volunteer, click here. And if you would like to make a small donation, click here — your service and your gifts can make a difference to one family by putting good food on their table

* Molly Veydovec is a SoSA Volunteer


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In the event I, or a registered family member, suffers any illness or accident requiring emergency hospitalization, medication, or other medical assistance while participating in a gleaning event, permission is given for any medical treatment which is deemed necessary and reasonable under the circumstances. I fully understand and comprehend that reasonable care will be exercised by the adult staff for this gleaning event to protect the safety of those involved. I understand that the field supervisor’s instructions must be followed at all times, and that I am responsible for any damages caused to fields, farms, or equipment by me/my family members not following these instructions.

Photos, videos, and other images in which I, or a registered family member, appear that are taken during gleanings may be used by the Society of St. Andrew for news coverage, newsletters, reports, displays, and for other print, broadcast, web, or electronic news or promotional purposes.

I do not hold the board, members, or employees of the Society of St. Andrew (SoSA,) or any volunteers liable for injury, bodily harm, accidents, or death of myself/my child during events sponsored by the Society of St. Andrew. Neither will I hold the person(s) who owns and/or operates the property from which we glean, salvage, or to which we deliver food, liable for accidents, injury, or death during the gleanings or other SoSA events.

For a PDF print version of this waiver, click here.

How the Story of the 12 Baskets is Connected to SoSA’s Name

Matthew 14:16-21

But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.

2 Kings 4:42-44

[…]the man of God […] said, “Give them to the people that they may eat.” His attendant said, “What, will I set this before a hundred men?” But he said, “Give them to the people that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left over.’” So he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.

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