Despite how ill-prepared I was for the cold, the Libby School Produce Day was a huge success. I made a statement (not a request) to my boss letting him know I would not be coming to work Friday, as my time would be better served at the volunteer event. Surprisingly, he didn’t put up a fight and actually told me our company has days allocated for volunteering–something to keep in mind and definitely ask your boss about if you haven’t already.
We had a solid group of volunteers including me, a friend, Young Leaders Society volunteer, Libby School staff, and United Way representatives who went to a food desert in Back of the Yards neighborhood.
The food distribution crew unloaded 8-10 palettes of fresh produce including fruits, vegetables and bread in the parking lot outside the school. They set up the palettes and the carrots towered above us, we were in charge of divvying up the food.
We strong armed the produce out of the sacks and made individual bags for pick up–it was set up like a grocery store. Each family had a wagon or a cart and each could get one-two bags of produce and two loafs of bread.
The biggest challenge was actually ripping open the plastic netting. Only to find out an hour after there was a box cutter brought specifically to ease our task! Better late than never and we made it out without losing any fingers.
We went through 70% of the food before it was nearing the end. At that point, anyone left was able to take as much as they wanted.
There were a handful of bread loaves, but other than that families cleaned the place out. The other volunteers were so wonderful and so grateful for our help; because we were there Libby School staff could teach instead of feeding the neighborhood.
After we completed the school’s staff told us they were probably on the city’s close list this year and that was heart breaking. So many schools on the close list have to overcome a landslide of obstacles–academics are sometimes secondary to feeding the students and their families.
In sum, families were fed, fingers were frozen, fun was had and hearts were warmed. I can’t wait to do it again. This time I’ll be smart enough to dress appropriately so I won’t have to thaw out my feet under the hand dryer. Join United Way’s Young Leaders Society and make a difference by feeding communities who wouldn’t otherwise have access to fresh produce!
Blog post submitted on behalf of YLS Committee Member, Molly Russell.