“God, people ask for a Christmas miracle on 34th Street. But I need a Thanksgiving miracle on Butterfield Drive.” I earnestly pray Wednesday night, Thanksgiving Eve, while stretching on my yoga mat, awaiting 9:45pm.
Earlier that day, Wednesday, I had packed 12 packages of food with volunteers from The Stepping Up Program of Forsyth County. They had 32 meals and supplemental food items that they were taking to 10 households. I had 8 of the same that I was taking to 2 households. They travelled to Kernersville in three different vehicles to pick up the usual load of produce we get from Food Lion and Harris Teeter as part of the Food Rescue Program with the Food Bank.
However, to my surprise and unbelief, the usual large food load, was only a few boxes, hardly enough to fit on one table–nothing like we prepared in my decision in sending three vehicles, nor anything compared to what we had been receiving on Wednesdays, which was usually overflowing with meat, cheeses, dairy, bread, cakes, fruit, salads, and other vegetables. I was disappointed, but mostly scared. “What was I going to do about the food we had planned to give the families?”
But I knew this was part of the game. You never know what you are going to get with donated items, so you always have to be flexible and adjust quickly. I told everyone to use what we had for those that we were serving that day. I had bought 40 prepared meals from a caterer that included a serving of turkey, green beans, and dressing with gravy, and we added, from our donated items, dessert, canned vegetables, and rice.
“Are you sure you want us to take everything? You said that you were short 30 meals?” Tonya, one of the volunteers, says to me right before we finish up.
“I’m sure.” I say with conviction, but wavering a bit. “I”m not going to turn anyone down who needs food. I have to have faith that the rest will work out somehow.” I responded. But I was also very unsure about how it was going to work out.
“Was I being too naïve?” I wasn’t sure.
I found out the day before an additional 30 meals were needed for people that were coming on Thanksgiving Day. I felt so much pressure. And was angry that instead of being something fun to do on a holiday, I now had a problem to solve.
“How did I get this problem?”
People could go somewhere else…but where? I knew Hope To Thrive had to be open on Thanksgiving Day because people needed somewhere to go. I needed that one year. If people are food insecure, they are food insecure all of the time, not just when a pantry is open. But, I didn’t think that I would be going into the day with stress.
“Can we have a moment of silence before you all leave, please?” I ask. “I really want to pray, but I’m not sure…” and before I could finish my sentence, there was a resounding,
“You can pray.”
“Thank you for the food, the produce, and the provision. May the food be delicious and well received, and go into all the bellies that it needs to. God, you fed the five thousand, and you fed the four thousand. You can feed 30. Amen.”
By: Joy Williams, Executive Director, Hope To Thrive