Friday, November 19, 2010

Giving. Thanks.

Last weekend my son and I did something we've both been looking forward to for a long time...
we volunteered at the San Francisco Food Bank. 
The SF Food Bank is about 50 min. from our house, on a Sunday morning at 8:30am...but it's the closest place I could find that welcomes children as young as 4.  Our local food bank must have a plethora of volunteers because they ask for a once a week commitment year round for all jobs, even sorting food (which is what we did last weekend).  And even at that, they do not have any opportunities for 6 year olds.  Well, that's not entirely true...they welcome donations of brown paper grocery bags decorated by children to pack the food in for their customers. 

If you are in the Marin area, you can donate brown paper bags, decorated by children, to Marin Food Bank at 75 Digital Dr., Novato.  This is a great way to give and help out this holiday season, with your kids, without having to leave home (except to drop off the bags).  Just decorate grocery bags with holiday pictures, or any artwork for that matter (please just don't use chalk or water color as it can rub off on people's clothing) and bring them to the Marin Food Bank in Novato.  They need up to 500 bags a month, so go ahead, use up all those bags you've been storing (but then, please, start bringing your own bags to the grocery store and say
"paper and plastic, no more!")  A great rainy day project, too.  Decorate some this weekend.
Ok, I ramble.  So here's our experience at the SF Food Bank.

We signed up on line and got several email confirmations with directions.  Our time was 9am-noon.  We left the house a couple minutes past 8am and got there just in time.  As we pulled up to park, my son asked, "where's all the homeless people?"  A great day of education this would be.
  You check in at any one of  5 laptop computers at the front entrance. 
After checking in, you wait in the "break room" for everyone to arrive.
My son and I patiently waited and discussed what we thought we might be doing that morning.  We signed up to "sort food", whatever that meant.  For us that day, it meant re-bagging rice.  After a little instruction, donning some attractive hair nets and gloves, we were off to work. 

doesn't it look like Costco in there?  without the samples, though
It was an assembly line:

-scoop rice into a bag, approximating 1 pound
-weigh the rice, adding/subtracting by the grain to get exactly 16 oz. (with a scale sensitive to 1/8 oz.)
-sealing the bag with a plastic sealer
-placing a label on the bag
-stacking the bags into a box that holds 15 bags, exactly

Since Sunday is the only day of the week children ages 4-8 are welcome, there were about 40 kids and 40 adults.  Luckily, all of the adults at our table were from a school and very patient with children.  We worked at the same "station" for the first 1 1/4 hours...for my son, that was scooping rice into a bag, and for me, weighing the rice (I knew that math degree would come in handy again). 
Then we took a break (union rules).  The highlight for my son was the
Lemonade Vitamin Water they passed out in the break room. He was ecstatic as his overprotective health conscious mom doesn't usually let him consume "fake sugar".
Back to work again, this time I took over as bag sealer and my son flip-flopped between labeling and boxing (his favorite job). 

After another 1 1/4 hours it was clean up time.  You've never seen so many kids fight over happily use a broom. 

Three hours later, we had that fuzzy warm feeling that we've helped someone many people.  One bag of rice that just might make someone's Thanksgiving a little happier.  In total, the 80+ people that were there that day bagged 3,825 pounds of rice...all in 1 pound increments. 

And off we headed home........ALMOST.
We're way out at the far end of SF, 
 kinda Timbuktu...and I discovered on our way out that in my rush to not be late excitement to get started, I locked my keys in the car.  Darn! 
We waited close to an hour for help to arrive.  The food bank is in the middle of we did what anyone would do while waiting,
built a castle out of parking lot rocks, of course.

And then:
My son was very disappointed they didn't send a tow truck.

And finally we're headed home.
We'll certainly do this again.  It was a fun time together, and a great experience for both of us.

How do you give to those less fortunate during the holidays? Do you have a favorite place you like to volunteer at?  What about with young children?  Talk to me people! Leave a comment.

I've been having a little computer trouble I'm a tad behind.  But coming up SOON is my finished boy's dresser!!  A sneak peek:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for reading! I LOVE your comments and appreciate the time you take to write them. I welcome questions and promise to answer them!
(You should be able to comment easily, but you'll need to just fill out the word verification box to make sure you are a real person!)