The Stairmaster

On my last day on the Safari Odyssey with Ari I was also introduced to a new form of CrossFit – The Turkey Stairmaster. Don’t worry, I’ll explain later but I think I’ve found the secret to staying svelte during the Holiday Season!

Charities at a glance

Charities at a glance

Today’s venture brought me to the Catholic Charities of West Tennessee and more specifically, the Fig Tree Pantry. On an average day the Fig Tree Pantry helps many homeless and impoverished with food services. Today was not an average day –  it was Day 3 of the Christmas Basket hand out. A program that started about 20 years ago to help provide provisions and toys to refugee families. Since then, the program has grown into serving over 300 homeless and immigrant families. Since I was a part of Day 3, previous volunteers had already sorted the food into boxes and Day 2 had given away about half of the them.

As I drove up behind the Dozier House I pulled up next to a huge refrigerated van and found a few people lugging frozen turkeys. Aha, I think I have found my fellow wranglers. truck turkeys

After taking the turkeys out, we placed them in bags with a pack of hotdogs. Each basket would have an assortment of dry goods, paper goods, a turkey weighing between 18-22 pounds and a pack of hotdogs. Thank goodness we had the muscle crew because we had a lot of loading to do! After being warmly greeted by Neal and Al I was sent to help finalize the organizing and receive a brief breakdown on how the whole procedure works.

Like any good assembly line, all the parts need to be moving together and in the correct order. When a client checks in they are given a number. There number is then called up to the toy room and some one brings down there bag of toys.* The client may then get some coffee, water and a cookie and if they have a child with them, get a picture taken with Santa. The picture also gets printed out right there and then thanks to the lovely Alie! Finishing the assembly line, the wrangling crew brings a box and turkey to the client’s car that gets pulled up, almost drive through style. My role was to bring the boxes and turkeys up the stairs and prep them for the people putting them in the cars. Pshhh, easy peasy. Then I got to carrying turkey and box number 30 and realized my idiocy.

My domain

My domain


These are the stairs that I got VERY well acquainted with. I am not even going to pretend like I didn’t work up a sweat. The rest of the assembly line was working so well I was barely able to keep them stocked and ready to go! It was awesome though – it allowed me to fully indulge and enjoy the pizza that they so graciously provided for lunch for the volunteers.




Someone is going to be a happy camper this Christmas!

Someone is going to be a happy camper this Christmas!

*Back to the toys. So, even separate from all the food organization, each client has extensive paperwork giving background to the family so we can make sure things are appropriately tailored. If the family is not living somewhere with access to cook the turkey, alternative options are provided. This really blew me away. I mean, yes, it seems extremely logical, but it also takes a lot of additional prep work but it ensures that everyone who is receiving is receiving items and goods they can use. That is some beautiful foresight. The paperwork also details what kind of kids they family has so the toys can be tailored as well. Going up the toy room was beautiful! There were tons of donations from the community of really really great items.

Although my interaction with clients was limited, I could hear many “Merry Christmases,” “God Bless Yous” and other thank yous floating down to me and my stairs. Albeit it being about 65 degrees, the season of giving is definitely in full effect.

And I even got to have my first ever picture with Santa!

me and santa!Stay tuned for my final thoughts about Volunteer Odyssey and a wrap-up of this week!



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