Yesterday was the last Thursday in June. So, you guessed it, we served in the evening.
It was our third evening serve.
And we served 64, the most for an evening serve, and it was a good night. But numbers aren’t what make it good. Of course, they’re important. At the end of a serve, you can hear the question being asked by volunteers all over the Storehouse. How many? How many?
But it was good because people who care and love ended up in the same place with people who need care and love. And, of course, food.
And that’s always good. When the people who love Jesus are paired with the People That Jesus Loves, it’s good. The Holy Spirit shows up. He gives the givers grace to give. He gives the receivers hearts to receive it.
But not everyone shows up in a good mood, you know. Or with a grateful spirit. Or thankful. Most of them do, nearly all of them. But some of them are indifferent. Shopping with us is just another thing they have to do, possibly between two other things they have to do.
They’re tired, and harried, and last night, they were hot.
I stepped out to register clients fifteen minutes before we opened. I worked my way down the line, greeting clients, explaining to new ones, and basically enjoying them all. Then I stood in front of a lady who was covered in sweat.
I got her name and birth date, and then she said, “I think I’m going to throw up.”
Forgive me. Our weekly Storehouse blog is late. It’s my fault. I’ve had a bad case of the grandkids this the second half of the week. Well, it was actually a good case.
If our pantry was a human, it would be a junior high kid. Probably eighth grade. If you’ve got one in your house right now, you have a front row seat to the characteristics: wide swings in mood, capable of powerful affection, petty, insecure, creative, angry, and trying to figure out an identity….
And our pantry, through the broken places in my heart, is all those things, at least behind the scenes. It’s our volunteers, the heartbeat of Jesus, who make sense of the madness each week.
In our pre-serve team meeting, we stressed again that our pantry does not deliver food to clients, and we don’t offer rides to clients, either to or from our pantry.
“We don’t do these things…until we just have to,” I told them. “And when that happens please come and let me know.”
There are times in the pantry when the Holy Spirit urges us to serve a client in a way that goes beyond the established parameters. So we talked about guidelines for when that happens. Females never leave alone with anyone. Take a man with you. Guys don’t ever leave alone with females.
Wanna do something really fun and rewarding?!
My family of wife, two daughters, two husbands, and five grandchildren (all girls) decided to get together for lunch this past Easter. What a blessing!
So, the day before, at the upward soccer games in which my grands play, my oldest daughter turns to me and says, “When we sit down to eat lunch tomorrow, I will break a three day fast.”
Amazing. She looked so normal.
I had dabbled in fasting, but it had been at least 100 years. Okay, that’s an exaggeration; more like 90.
Anyhoo, fasting is when, you know, we deny ourselves food. On purpose. I know! It’s crazy.
But we’re asked to do this sometimes by medical folks such as when we’re going in for a full blood screen. It’s called a fasting lab. And then there’s the big procedure when you turn 50 where you have to fast for a whole day before the appointment but that’s okay because you have to drink this medicine and spend the whole day in the bathroom and really don’t have time to eat. And really don’t want to….
Okay, I have a confession to make. It’s nothing juicy or salacious. However, it is important.
But first, I want to tell you about bags.
We employ the used shopping bags from Kroger, Walmart, and any other store in which donors of bags have shopped. We received a gajillion (correct spelling, look it up), on Feed the Need day, but bags are also donated throughout the year, primarily by Storehouse volunteers.
We use these bags mostly in our hygiene room, to hold clients’ choices there, and also in the cold food room (we’re trying this new name for the hottest room in the Storehouse, what do you think?) to bag cold items destined to condensate. We probably average 3.7 used bags per client per serve day. (And another ten new ones per client, donated by Walgreens.)
We receive these bags from donors in a state you can probably imagine. Seventy-nine bags wadded up, crammed into a single bag, the handles having been pretzelized (come on, we make verbs out of nouns all the time, like hammering and our favorite, google it) to close the top.
So, the bags have to be snapped. To snap bags, one grabs the handles, uses the arm as a bullwhip, which causes the bag to take on a little air and return to a shape similar to its original. Once several snapped bags hang from a snapper’s hand, the air is squeezed from them all and they are nestled among others in a paper grocery sack, which maintains its shape regardless of how many bags it holds, handles out, for easy single selection.
The weekend after I became the Storehouse director, I snapped over 1200 bags. And now I just snap them as they come in, although I haven’t worked through all the FTN bags. I’d like to say I spend all that time praying over the donor who put items for our clients in those bags, or for the clients who will take home items in those bags, and that does happen, but mostly I just watch television with my wife. With the volume unusually high, of course, cause I’m snapping bags.
I am the Storehouse Director and get the privilege of writing about the people that Jesus loves.
Contact Mike Rush at email@example.com for all things "Volunteer".
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