The Measure of Your Work.
By: Max Groce
To be honest, when I was told that I would be volunteering at the food bank I automatically assumed that it was the Memphis Food Bank. A lot of people make this association when they hear the Mid-South Food Bank but from what I learned today I was very much mistaken. The Mid-South Food Bank doesn’t just serve the hungry in Memphis; it serves 31 counties in three states. This is not just food pantries either, this includes soup kitchens, shelters, youth and senior programs, rehabilitation and residential centers.
I drove to their center on South Dudley Street in the morning; I arrived and was quickly ushered into the boardroom with Ms. Paula and some volunteers from Kellogg’s that were going to be working with me today. Paula quickly filled me in on the history of the Mid-South food bank about how they fed close to 186,500 people last year and how they rely on volunteers for pretty much all the work that is done from the center that we were at. We walked out into the hallway where we stand waiting for her to start our tour. I notice a woman facing a huge window in a make shift office out of file cabinets, I ask Paula are most of the people that work here volunteers and she said yes. She tells me that volunteers often offer their special services like the lady by the window who was obviously doing some sort of data base retrieval and scheduling. She takes through a white door and then when on the main floor of a large warehouse, surrounded by large pallets of food. While she’s taking us through the warehouse, there are people working all around us on forklifts pulling orders for the day. I think about how these orders that they are pulling are going all over the mid-south to feed the hungry.
Paula tells us when you think of food banks you think mostly about nonperishable foods, but the fact that I didn’t know is the Mid-South food bank is one of the only places that can accept fresh produce and meat due to their large refrigerators and freezers. We make it past the ware house to an area that looks like a grocery store and the other volunteers and I start sorting through large crates of food that is called salvage. I start sorting out cake and hamburger helper while I laugh with the other volunteers about how they’re disappointed that there are not a lot of Kellogg’s products to sort. We put them into carts and then begin to take them and put them on the shelves and slowly try to straighten up the aisles. I do this for about two and half hours and then the Kellogg volunteers leave and I’m not far behind them.
I consider myself a pretty skilled individual, anything you ask me to do I can pretty much do. That’s from helping you paint walls to searching large data bases using semi complex computer programs. But today I learned that its they don’t always need the complex skills, sometimes the most helpful things that you can do is the simplest things, like simply sorting out food for the hungry and putting in on shelves. Paula tells me that this part is almost completely done by volunteers and It makes me reflect on truly every little thing that you do when you volunteer truly does help. I’d like to end this blog with a quote that Paula puts at the end of her emails and that is, “The heart of a volunteer is not measured by size, but by the depth of the commitment to make a difference in the lives of others.”
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