We are a country that prides itself on power and wealth, yet there are millions of children who go hungry every day. It is our responsibility, not only as a nation, but also as individuals, to get involved. So, next time you pass someone on the street who is in need, remember how lucky you are, and don’t turn away. — Lesley Boone
This quote has never meant more to me as it does today. Our service project has exposed us to the true face of hunger in our community. The number of men, women, and children needing food is astonishing and, quite frankly, overwhelming. Through our journey we have also met many great people and organizations who are committed to ending and preventing hunger. This week’s volunteer experience gave us a chance to work with a ministry that is feeding hunger in Fort Wayne. The Franciscan Center serves over 100,000 people every year through its ministries. The Saint Anthony’s Food Pantry provides food once a month to families in need. The Saint Joseph’s Medicine Cabinet provides assistance to over 5000 families in our community with over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and personal items. The Saint Peter’s Sack Lunch program delivers over 1000 sack lunches every week to those in need of food. This lunch is delivered at no cost to the recipient with no questions are asked. This is how we served the Franciscan Center.
We arrived at the Franciscan center at 7:45 am on Saturday morning. We had volunteered to run a full route of deliveries and we were excited to get started. Upon arrival, we received our route which consisted of the names and addresses of those receiving lunches as well as the number of lunches per house. We were scheduled to deliver 292 sack lunches on our route. We proceeded to the big refrigerator where we grabbed the appropriate number of lunches and put them into our car. After loading up the car we gathered with all of the other volunteer teams for a moment of prayer. It was an emotional experience for me. We recited the Prayer of Saint Francis and the words spoken had great definition for me in that moment. It was a perfect way to start our experience. There were 4 or 5 other teams of volunteers who were running routes. It was great to see volunteers of different races and ages volunteering. We met one family who deliveries lunches each Saturday morning and you could see the excitement in their faces as they headed out for their day.
We left the facility and started down the road on the route. I was the driver, Erica the navigator. We were instructed to pull up to the front of each residence and honk the car horn. Actually, I believe we were told to “lay on the horn” upon arrival. That was tough for me to do. It was 8am on Saturday morning and I did not want to disturb the neighborhood. After the first few deliveries, we found a routine that worked. I knew what type of work we had signed up for, but I was not prepared for the emotions that would come with it. Many of the houses that we delivered to were in bad shape. Windows were busted out and doors were taped together. Many of the households were receiving multiple lunches to feed the entire house, including children. I walked up to one house because it was obvious that the mother was home with many small children. As I approached the door, a little girl (maybe 3 or 4) ran towards me yelling “lunch is here!” She was excited to see that sack lunch and it was obvious to me that it may have been the only thing she would eat that day. My heart was broken. I will never forget her. She alone will inspire me to find more ways to help fight hunger. Precious angels like her should never go hungry.
We delivered lunches to many elderly and disabled individuals as well. We were instructed to walk those to the door because they wouldn’t be able to walk outside to meet us. I rang the doorbell at one home and waited. I rang the doorbell again and I also knocked, but no one ever came to the door. The front door was open and I could hear someone inside. I was about to leave when I saw a lady coming towards the door. She was an elderly woman who had a hard time walking. She struggled to the door, but she opened it with a smile. She was very thankful for the delivery and she appreciated us for brightening her day. She told me she loved me two or three times. She had never met me, but delivering that meal was a sign of love. I told her that I loved her as well and that we would be there to help her when needed. There were other scenarios like this one. We met many wonderful people who were very gracious and appreciative of the lunch.
Erica and I delivered 292 lunches on Saturday morning in about three hours. It was an eye-opening and rewarding experience. It was further proof that small investments of time can make a huge difference in the life of someone else. The Franciscan Center offers a wide array of volunteer opportunities for people of any age. You can visit www.thefranciscancenter.org to learn more about their mission, their vision, and their ministries. It is our responsibility to step up and lend a hand. Find time in your busy schedule to do something simple like delivering sack lunches. You will feel the power and the love of a little brown bag.