By Barbara Sayles *
Things have been intense. Emotional, powerful, impactful, unforgettable … virtually everything has been beyond what we’re used to experiencing.
These past 3 months have consistently been filled with visions of cars lined up for hours for food. Every event we contribute to, we see lines of cars waiting for hours for a bag of food. We see policemen who were not called ahead of time jumping in to help with traffic control and offering to help with future events.
We see desperation on the faces of parents picking up food for their families, and the return of a smile for a smile. We see text messages with the words “thank you for all you are doing” and “oh my gosh, you all are angels, thank you so much for these veggies!!! They are amazing!”
Most of all, we see hope in that bag (or box) of veggies. It’s a hope that this won’t last forever, that one day soon, people will have jobs again and be able to go to the store again to buy their own groceries.
This has been a bitter-sweet 3 months, the busiest ever in the history of my 14 years in the Florida Regional Office, but in other ways, some of the best things have come from this.
Hundreds of volunteers stepping up every single week to glean with us and helping deliver the gleaned produce.
Welbro Construction helping non-stop with their pickup trucks moving food from the field to the agency, and to the direct distributions going on around the state. UNITE volunteers helping not only distribute the food we bring but also helping us pick it up and driving our box trucks for us.
Agencies sending out volunteers to pick food and bring it back to their own distributions.
Farmers calling us to offer the farm to family boxes that are such a great staple of fresh fruits / veggies at our distribution events.
Individual donors stepping up and giving for the first time, or giving more.
Foundations giving more, or giving unsolicited. Emergency grants were given.
As I look back in wonder at how we did what we did, I realize it was because of all these amazing people and businesses and agencies and donors!
Together we were able to reach so many people in need, and I thank God for them and for this experience that has changed many of us forever.
* Barbara Sayles is the Director of the SoSA Florida Regional Gleaning Network