On Friday, as junior and high school students finished their last exam and school dismissed for the Christmas break, PIE Club members headed over to Mikulski Hall to start setting up for our 4th annual Christmas Food Giveaway.
Families whose children receive free or reduced fee lunches at Rose Garden Elem., Wilder Intermediate, Corbett Junior High and Clemens High schools are invited to attend; where they'll receive up to a 50 pound package of produce and meat as well as select up to 30 non-perishable items.
Earlier that morning the SA Food Bank delivered over 11,000 pounds of food for our giveaway. We also had part of a U-Haul sized truck filled with items from the Food Drives held at Wilder and Clemens. While we waited for everyone to arrive, the kids jumped into unloading and sorting the items from the Food Drives.
Once everyone was there we took a short break for lunch (Pizza had been donated by Mattenga's). After lunch they jumped back into sorting and organizing the non-perishables by type, then moved onto creating packages of the perishable items.
In our fourth year, it was really neat to witness the growth, maturity and leadership in the
teens. They knew what to do, asked questions as needed, but really took ownership of the whole process - from organizing the group, working diligently to ensuring we were cleaning up as we went. Everything was set and organized an hour before the families were scheduled to arrive. This allowed them to have a snack and take a short break before they started helping the families.
Families began to arrive early and the kids jumped into the job they'd chosen - greeting, signing in, holding boxes as families selected their non-perishables and carrying the boxes to their cars when they were ready to go. These teens really are a special group and I'm constantly in awe of their giving, selfless hearts. They so enjoy this opportunity to give of themselves and it's a true treasure to watch them care for and share Christ's light with others. When asked, they will tell you their favorite part is seeing the families faces.
As they entered, families were able to have cookies or brownies that had been donated by PIE Club Prayer Partners. While the parents selected their items, the kids could sit at the kids table where one of the teens had volunteered to color and play games with them. There was also a table with books the children could select and take home. Their faces beamed when they learned they could take as many as they wanted - for free. Santa walked around greeting families and talking with the kids, making the evening a special event.
At closing, we still had a few boxes left so we loaded the truck and high school students with adult volunteers caravanned to the neighboring, low income apartments. This part of the evening is just as special to the teens as they knock on doors and surprise the residents with a large package of free food. As one door opened, the recipient burst into tears and wrapped the person delivering in a bear hug.
God is here.