Saturday morning, I had the chance to take part in an activity I’d never done, volunteering with a group of teachers to help with a mobile food pantry.

First off, this is part of what I’ve decided I want to do more of, volunteering in the community. I’ve talked about how I’ve not felt “at home”, but in order to do that, you have to be active where you live. We’ve drifted out of that notion as our kids have gotten older and life as a whole has gotten more stressed.

As I walked up, there were all ready teachers around, pulling food off a truck, so I jumped in line moving bags of potatoes, and away we went. It was a lot of potatoes moved too, let me tell you what!  Next, moving and organizing canned goods, breaking down boxes, just talking with some of people teachers around.  The sense of purpose was just there in the room and I think it was evident in all we did.

During Thanksgiving, I was able to help my wife deliver a dinner to a family that our 4-H group had sponsored, and it was an eye opening experience for me in terms of what poverty physically looks like.  My wife, teaching in Headstart, visited homes like this, but for me, as a public school teacher, I’ve not seen that before.  It’s kind of what I felt during this experience Saturday.  These were truly the faces of what poverty is in our community and as I helped carry food out to cars, my thoughts were “how can we do more” for people like this.  That’s the million dollar question I know, but it’s stuck with me all weekend.

As quickly as things got started, it was done. I’m not sure if it was the weather (cold and icy roads) but there was much left over, so we reloaded everything into a couple a couple trucks to be taken to the local food pantry, and we were done.  My takeaway: the real faces of poverty aren’t always seen in our schools.  We know who our low SES students are, but do we really know what their lives are like as they leave the school?  It’s a tough question to ask, to reflect upon as it means reflecting on our own lives as well.

Yes, I’ll be helping out again, sooner I hope. Our church helps with this food pantry during the year and I’ll be recruiting to add a few more to our roster when it’s our turn.

I was proud to see the group that we had from the district. Many hands do make light work, and that sense of purpose just flowed the entire time.  As things needed to be done, people were there, ready to help.  It was good to see the group representing our elementary, middle school, high school all in a positive light.  That’s what we need to continue to do as a district, find those areas where we can pitch into the community. It’s great to get the students involved, but to see teachers and administrators in the mix, it makes all of us that much more willing to work for each other.

And that is how community is cultivated and grown. 🙂