Yesterday the kids and I volunteered for a two hour shift at the local food bank. We have volunteered here a few times before on weekends or in the evening and have had great experiences. I signed up online a few weeks ago for a morning shift and we took a quick break from homeschooling to volunteer. After our time serving, my son summed up our experience when he said, “Mom, we were in the way.”
When we arrived, one of the staff looked at us with recognition but great surprise. “You signed up online for today?” she asked. “Well, we will find something for you to do.” The food bank was a well-oiled machine with twelve to fifteen adults who all had a purpose. We were put in charge of sorting toiletries and spent 30 enjoyable minutes with a task that was meant for us (we turned it into a game which made it a lot of fun).
Once our task was complete, we went to find the staff member and ask for our next job. She asked us to help sort produce and assuming we had done it before, left us with the task. Thankfully the produce volunteers could smell our newness and guided us through the process. This job was already well on it’s way to being done, throw in three new people (one of whom is a 9 year old daydreamer), a tight space and you can guess that we were more of a hindrance than a blessing.
We trudged on through our task and stayed until completion. When the group took their lunch break, we made our exit. Only an hour of our two was served but I don’t think any of them were sorry to see us go.
Some service experiences leave you feeling so good and others just so-so. I told the kids that despite this experience, we will try another morning at the food bank. If we go again, maybe we will start to learn more of the routines and soon add more value to the task.
I also think it is good for people of all ages to come together for one common goal and this food bank provides that. There were seniors who couldn’t read the labels on the tiny shampoo and conditioner bottles (but we could), my 9 year old that just wanted to trade in the produce job for one sorting sugary pastries and lots of ages in between. Together we unpacked the truck, organized the food and completed an important task. I hope they won’t be sorry to see us coming back again.