A little food and a lot of "sparklies"
We all have days that challenge every turn, hit on every nerve and make us question whether or not we’ll ever see an effective change. Like a hamster in a wheel, we feel we’re running but getting nowhere. There are so many to help and such limited resources to make a real difference. Every so often there are beautiful days filled with meaningful work - like last Friday.
It was a perfect, slightly cool morning with blue skies, sunshine and a gentle breeze quietly rustling through the treetops. First Friday Community Food Pantry, a monthly food distribution event held at First United Methodist Church, was alive with volunteers setting up tables and unloading food that would serve up to 200 families. Fresh fruits and vegetables, a variety of bread and bags of chicken hindquarters lined the tables. The event is hosted by a different agency each month, who is responsible for recruiting volunteers and “manning the store.” May was Mission Granbury’s (MG) month to host and the place was crawling with MG staff, volunteers and board members along with many volunteers from other area agencies. Despite the work, there was an unmistakable aura of joy everywhere.
On previous First Fridays, I handed out food. Last Friday, my assignment was “running carts;” assisting clients to their cars, unloading their groceries and returning the carts for the next client. The walk to the parking lot isn’t long - but it’s long enough to be blessed. You can actually learn a lot about someone on that little stroll, and you’ll remember their faces and their stories. A client on chemo who’s overjoyed with the weather, an elderly woman who needs a little extra for her neighbor who is ill, a young mother and her two boys who delight in the bag of pears and bunches of bananas. The joy in the air was palpable. The joy of gratitude, the joy of giving and the joy of connecting with kindred spirits. It was a delightful way to spend any morning.
We returned to MG’s Resource Center, tired but still beaming from the bliss of the morning. That’s when we met her. Her name was Sophie and “she used to be four until she had a birthday.” Sophie’s long dark hair fell in a tangled mess down her back, almost to her waist. Bright pink lipstick wandered around her mouth, calling attention to it when she spoke in that little girl sing-song fashion. She was, in a word, adorable. Happy, funny, vibrant and clueless about her situation. She had lipstick and a teddy bear. Life was just good.
While her dad filled out paperwork for short term assistance, I and several staff took Sophie on a little shopping spree. “Can you find me some conditioner,” she asked? “My hair is just one big poof ball when I don’t have conditioner.” It took some digging but we found some. (Hint: we NEVER have enough hair conditioner!) Next we hit our Resale Shop to find some clean summer clothes. Her brown eyes danced and she held my hand tightly while I rifled through the racks. “Can I have shorts with sparklies or maybe a shirt with sparklies? Or some sparkly shoes?” The oohs and aahs and little squeals of excitement were like music to this seasoned grandmother’s ears. We did provide Sophie’s dad with short term help and as they headed out the door, Sophie came running back – to give us all a big hug. “Thank you! You’re all just so nice here!” she beamed. Glory be – no day ever had a better ending.