One week ago today was my company's Christmas (Holiday? I celebrate Christmas so I'll say that) party - I'm just now getting around to blogging about it!
My boss plans the evening portion of the party (will get to that later) and does an awesome job! Our company is big on philanthropy and lets everyone take a "Volunteer Day" each year, so I thought last Thursday would be the perfect day to do that as a team and give back to our MN community. After doing some research, I found the organization Second Harvest Heartland and signed us all up for a shift there.
"Second Harvest Heartland works to reinvent hunger relief through leadership and innovation. As the Upper Midwest’s largest hunger relief organization, our goal is not only to help our hungry neighbors today, but to provide the means for everyone to be fed tomorrow. We’re known for distributing great amounts of food quickly and efficiently; in 2010 alone, we collected, warehoused and distributed more than 70 million pounds of food—but we’re also constantly pioneering ways to reduce waste and better use the abundant resources available in this land of plenty. Working with our network of partners, volunteers and donors as well as people like you, our 86,300 square feet of dry, refrigerator and freezer space is constantly accepting and distributing donations. Our fleet of trucks travels nearly half a million miles a year, picking up food donations and delivering them to local food shelves, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, senior community centers and children's after school programs."
We went to the nearby packing warehouse and the Director gave a small talk about who they are, what they do, and what our volunteer service means. He told a story of a letter he got from a local food shelf worker the week before that brought me to tears. Apparently, they got a overage shipment of Godiva chocolates one day and portioned those out to be deliver to the food shelters. The food shelf worked handed some out to an elderly lady, 80+ years old, and she excitedly unwrapped one, took a bite, and tears of joy streamed down her face. She said she hadn't had chocolate in 20+ years because it just wasn't in the budget, as she had to provide for her family and grandchildren first and couldn't afford treats for herself. As I sat there with my Coach purse on my lap, I felt so incredibly blessed - we really are among the richest in the world and have no idea how good we have it...
So we spend the morning until noon packing tortillas - there's a manufacturer in MN who makes McDonald's tortillas and drops the thousands of rejected ones (that were perfect in my eyes!) off at the warehouse every Tuesday and Thursday. The volunteers sort them, package them into bags of 12, seal them, and box them up to be frozen and delivered. As I was working, I just kept thinking about the families that would be receiving these and use them as a staple in their meal. I often don't eat tortillas because they're too "carby" but I felt so selfish when I realized how blessed I was to have that choice! I started praying over the food and praying for the families that would be making dinner with them. It was neat how everyone worked as a team doing something outside the office - it felt good to give back! After the tortillas were all done (thousands packed!) we sorted through some potatoes that had recently come in from a local farm and were going bad. We had to sort them good and bad, placing them in bins. Again, as we were saying that they were "gross" I was struck with the fact that, here we were complaining about the bad potatoes while the family who gets them will be so thankful. Around that time a warehouse worker there came over to say hi and commented that no matter how bad things are, they can always be worse, so we can count ourselves lucky to be where we are. Really puts things into perspective and I was grateful for the experience - I can't wait to do it again next year!
Me and Sus in hairnets (I had to wear two cause I have so much hair!)
The brave boys, Paul and Charlie, in their ugly Christmas sweaters
The team (Sus, Matt, Paul, me, Jeff, John and Charlie - missing Sarah, Sandi and Bryn) with all the boxes of tortillas we packed up for the food shelves
So we headed back to the office to work for a bit then got in our part gear and went down to the 508 to play Loaded Questions - my favorite! I love playing with our small and close team, it's really funny to see and guess what everyone says. A few rounds of that and Sarah told us to wait outside where our ride was waiting - a stretch limo! She had champagne waiting for us and we had a great time driving around the city for a few hours, looking at lights, laughing, and singing along to the radio. :)
Paul and I are excited to be in a limo!
Cheers in the limo
Pit stop at Tony Jaro's for Greenies
The ladies - recruiter Sus, boss Sarah, and me
Me and Charlie - good thing he has long arms!
After the limo tour, we ended the evening with dinner at Manny's Steakhouse where we all enjoyed steak, lobster, potato and veggie sides. We all commented on how it was quite the juxtaposition from the morning we had - packing food for those in need while we were stuffed with excess of the most expensive food! Paul made a good point when he said that the point of volunteering/service isn't to make you feel guilty for what you DO have, but to motivate you to do more with what you have, including your time! I think the morning impacted us all and I really look forward to serving with my team again next year.
It was a great day from morning to night and I was grateful to be able to give back and also celebrate the success of our team this year, while looking forward to next year!