In the state of Oregon, the Oregon Food Bank states that nearly 86,000 children receive emergency food boxes every single month.
Today, I got to see first hand a glimpse of some of these children while volunteering at a summer outpost lunch program in a neighboring city to which I live. Now granted, I am not sure the background of every last child that came for their free lunch, but I saw their faces.
In all, it was a small glimpse, albeit any glimpse is too much of a glimpse when talking about children who are hungry. And sure, many can place blame on a lot of things, primarily their parents, but go ahead and place blame, for me… there are children to feed, regardless.
In 17 minutes, we were able to hand out 325 lunches. On some days, organizers say they could have fed up to 700 children.
But, it wasn’t just that which caused me to wonder. It was those who came out to serve the lunches to these children that caused me to wonder, pause, and reflect.
As I stood there at the end of the table with food, drinks, and napkins, I got to hand out straws to each of the children coming through the line I was assigned. The other two lines had both my teenage daughter handing out straws and a young woman friend of ours who recently moved here from Rwanda.
While handing out straws to the kids, I couldn’t help to get more excited with each straw I was handing out because of what I was watching in front of me.
There she was, this maybe 7 or 8 year old beautiful young girl handing out napkins to children primarily the same age as her. But, it wasn’t just who she was that got me more and more excited, it was the look on her face when each child grabbed a napkin from her.
You would have thought she was just given her favorite thing in the world each and every time another child grabbed another napkin.
I sat there in wonder… here is a child finding such incredible joy… in handing out napkins.
I read once that God loves a cheerful giver. In this, I both saw and felt those words right here… today… in this line… through the smile on the face and the sparkle in the eye of a child handing out napkins to other children in need of something to eat.
Before I left for the day, I had heard another story of a young boy, maybe 5, who as well was called into action as a napkin disperser who wanted so desperately every child to have a napkin that he became sad when some of the children decided to forego one.
The look on his face was priceless when retelling the story. Here was a young boy who took his assignment seriously and was determined to make sure every one who passed through his line got a napkin. You could see still minutes later the sheer disappointment he had for yet a few children passing by without partaking in his offer.
It was as if he was distraught over others not taking what he knew they needed. He wasn’t taking it personally, he was just sad they didn’t take what he so desperately wanted them to have not just because, but because they needed what he had to give.
I stood there and wondered. A napkin. Yet..
While handing out straws in my line, occasionally I would look over towards the other lines at my fellow straw hander outers in both my teenage daughter as well as our friend from Rwanda. With each glance over at them a joy entered my soul in that which I saw. They were having fun serving by handing out straws.
Straws. Again, I stood and wondered.
Earlier that morning when I had decided to go with my family to serve, I hadn’t told my daughter yet until she came into the room I was in while I was tying my shoes and asked me if I was coming. When I said yes, you would have thought she just received her favorite thing in the world.
All I said was I was going to join them. With this, I wondered.
What excuses have I conjured up over time? What things was I unwilling to do because they seemed so insignificant? What bitterness was I storing up that would keep me from serving those around me?
Where is my cheerful heart? Where is my determination? Where is my participation? Where is my… the list goes on.
Today I wondered what a line in the sand looks like that says… what if serving others became my favorite thing in the world?
Two wide-eyed wondered kids, and my teenage daughter…
If only I could be as they are.
I saw something today that made me wonder… maybe just maybe, I can be just as they are… willing, cheerful, determined, and able. And why not? There is need all around me. Time to get busy.
Care to join me?