Holiday Hunger

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“Grab those boxes of mashed potatoes!” Sally Festin, President of Society of St. Vincent de Paul St. Augustine Conference, in Phoenix, yelled across the store as we shopped at the local supermarkets. This was the first time I volunteered during the holidays.

In the past years of family dinners at Thanksgiving or Christmas, I thought that the less fortunate usually did not deserve to have a nice meal because of how the homeless are always portrayed. As I thought about it, no one is undeserving of a delicious, hot, and friendly meal during the holidays. I knew it was time that I do something to help. That is when I learned of the volunteering opportunity to help a church that offers assistance the homeless and needy.
On the breezy Sunday morning at the break of dawn I was shopping, still half asleep, with Sally Festin to restock the pantry to feed the less fortunate during the holidays. As we stopped at numerous stores such as Bashas, Wal-Mart, and Fry’s I soon realized how many people did not have holiday meals on Thanksgiving or Christmas. I assumed most people had a holiday feast with family and friends, but after how many groceries we purchased it was proof that a surplus of families would be fed for the holiday.









Like most churches, Society of St. Vincent de Paul St. Augustine Conference is committed to making sure the families with insufficient funds or homeless people are well fed for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The thought of being able to give back to my community by helping make sure the poor had food during the holidays warmed my heart.
Restocking the pantry with hundreds of dollars in groceries truly takes a ton of difficult work. There was the matter of going to the stores and buying the groceries first. The amount of groceries that was bought took so much space that a U-Haul truck was needed to transport all of the food. It took many hours to gather the giant group of groceries. Then we had to load the food into the U-Haul truck. Then, after many hours of hording the holiday foods such as garlic mashed potatoes, juicy turkey, and delectable soups, I was ready to fall over. But there was still work to do. At the church, the food needed to be unloaded and sorted. The process began with grouping similar foods together. Then we had to locate all of the holiday foods. We purchased holiday foods and normal food for families that eat at the church throughout the year. The holiday foods were grouped together to make finding them easier when the time came. The last task we performed was taking the rest of the food and packing it into boxes to store in the pantry.
Seeing how much food was purchased and stored is evident how many families go without food. This makes me appreciate my life and family gatherings of joy, comfort, and sense of belonging.
Some say the holidays are a time to give. And I completely agree after this experience with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul St. Augustine Conference. After this eye opening experience, I will be sure to volunteer more time to help the people who need it most.





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