A Little Bit of Hope for 2021
One of the most important things a person can possess is hope. That’s why, after a year as unprecedented as the one we just experienced, we wanted to take a moment to highlight some stories that left us feeling hopeful. These stories come from partner agencies across our sixteen county service region and detail experiences they have had with clients this past year. We hope that after reading some of these stories, you feel a little more hopeful.
She had a family of five and she needed help. She was trying to determine how to best spend her last few dollars for food. She saw our distribution and stopped, thinking that maybe she could purchase some cheap food. She asked how much for the food and we told her it was free. She began crying because she was so thankful to have found enough food to feed her family, even though she had little money left. She’s an immigrant and new to the area so she didn’t know where to get help. Stories like this are what give us the strength to continue to do all that we can to provide resources for people like her.
A child came to one of our distributions and was told by one of our volunteers that he can have as much candy as he wanted. So, he stuffed his pockets with candy bars. He then saw a cake and he told the volunteer, “I would like to put all the candy back if that’s okay and get the cake”. When asked why, he said, “because I can share the cake with my siblings and we will have more than just a candy bar for me.”
Just this past week, a momma and her two boys pulled up for their weekly food box. The boys were in the backseat, expressing excitement and singing a made up song… “food, food, food….we want food!” This made me giggle.
One family reached out to me to ask if it might be okay to access our food pantry, even though they drive a nice car. The husband had lost his job, due to COVID. It led to a wonderful conversation about what equity and community really mean. They confessed that although previously they were considered “well off”, since her husband’s lay off, they had been unable to cover both their mortgage and put food on the table for their two children. Now, they don’t have to worry as much about food!
Since so many residents have felt isolated, we devised a system of boxes put outside during distributions that clients can pick through. Most often, we fill these boxes with odd products that don’t get placed in regular food bags. Clients are allowed to pick out any items for their use, while practicing social distancing and wearing masks and gloves. The PPE items MANNA has provided, have allowed us to accomplish this project. Clients are now able to bring something extra home for their families, while interacting with others. All of this has led to an increase in enthusiasm among volunteers and clients. Some COVID changes have had a positive impact!
We recently had a young Hispanic mother visit our site and she was so grateful that we could help her and her children that she began to cry. It made me and the other volunteers very emotional. I was just so happy that we were here to help.
One of our clients said as the food was being put in their car, “ALL OF THIS IS FOR US!” Our workers were proud that they could create that moment.