Get More Than You Give
By Deb Morin | October 29, 2019
Tuesdays are my favorite day of the week. That is the day I get to volunteer at Frisco Family Services. I have worked the 9-1 shift at the Food Pantry for the past 7 years and been inspired in some way almost every single time. There are clients who radiate positivity despite their hardships, volunteers who work hard and treat the clients with such respect, and the countless times when the right item shows up in the pantry exactly when someone really needs it.
Our Food Pantry is set up like a regular grocery store. We are open to clients who have qualified for Frisco Family Services programs. Most clients are in need of services because of short-term life setbacks like medical issues and job loss. We also serve senior citizen clients on a longer-term basis who can’t quite make ends meet. Clients check in at the Food Pantry, grab a cart, and shop just like they would at a regular grocery store. The food pantry is stocked with food, toiletries, and household goods. The set up allows them to shop and choose their own items, instead of being handed bags of staple foods like a lot of other food pantries. It feels less like charity and more like regular grocery shopping, which helps clients maintain self-respect. I love that we usually have a nice supply of good foods like fresh vegetables, meats, and bakery items, not just canned food. Most food is donated by individual citizens, businesses, civic groups, schools, and grocery stores. Volunteers are needed to drive the truck to pick up donations, process donations, stock the shelves, check out clients, bag their items, and staff the front desk. Donations and new volunteers are always needed at the Food Pantry.
Speaking from experience as a volunteer there, you will be inspired if you choose to spend some time volunteering at the pantry. I’ll give you just a few examples.
A few years ago I struck up a conversation with a client I’d seen a few times at the pantry and was amazed by how she always had a smile on her face and a positive attitude. I’d been a little down that day about some minor situation in my life, and I wanted to know how she stayed so genuinely upbeat. She told me it was all in God’s hands. He wasn’t going to give her more than she could handle, and she owed it to Him to handle her burdens with grace. She truly believed her life was part of His plan, and she just had to trust. Over the next several conversations she shared those incredible burdens with me … extreme childhood traumas, no access to education since the 8th grade, the responsibility of a child with special needs who was the product of some of that childhood trauma, escape from an abusive relationship, topped off with a recent cancer diagnosis. Despite all that, she spoke with hope in her voice and trust that there was a reason for her journey in life. She was a shining example to me of how to have faith in God’s plan. I think about her often.
I’ve also been inspired by other volunteers who donate their time to the food pantry. There is the woman who needed food pantry services at a low point in her life and now comes regularly to give back. The octogenarian who bags groceries and stocks shelves with the energy of a teenager. One woman, in particular, is particularly inspirational. Many clients feel ashamed to find themselves in need of the food pantry. She goes out of her way to make them feel comfortable and treats them with such respect. She is learning Spanish so she can speak with some of our clients who are new to this country. She has even picked up a few words in Russian, Arabic, and Hindi so she can greet certain clients in their native languages. You can literally see the difference she makes when a client walks in looking embarrassed and down, and leaves with a smile on their face because of her kindness.
Some of my favorite inspirations from the Food Pantry are when an item shows up in the pantry exactly when someone needs it. This happens so often I’ve lost count. There was a woman who needed size 5 diapers for her special needs son, but we never have size 5 diapers because people usually donate the smaller, baby sizes. Moments after I told the client that, I walked into the backroom to find someone had dropped off a bag of groceries and a box of size 5 diapers on the donation table by the back door. Another client was telling me about how her child was suffering from terrible allergies. When she came to check out she told me she found a Costco-sized bottle of Zyrtec on the shelf, which is the only time I have ever seen Zyrtec at the food pantry. The cancer patient who was having trouble with solid foods found a supply of Ensure on the shelf, the unicorn birthday cake for the man’s daughter who was turning 5 and loved unicorns, gelfite fish for the sweet senior lady who grew up in eastern Europe, the list goes on and on. I come home every Tuesday and tell my husband these stories and he always says, “Do you think that’s just a coincidence? That’s God’s work.”
I started volunteering at the Food Pantry to give back to my community. After all these years there, I can see clearly how much more I got than I gave. If you are looking for some inspiration in your life, come volunteer at Frisco Family Services.