November & December theme:
“Choose One Thing”
Posted in :  Community Works

It’s that time of year again.

Time for feasts of turkey, family gatherings, a 23-minute tradition called Alice’s Restaurant and Black Friday pre-sales. Thanksgiving is upon us. It’s easy to get caught up in the joyful spirit this season brings but, often, we are too distracted to remember that others are not so fortunate.

To close out this year’s Community Works theme of “nourishment,” we signed up with Foodshare‘s Turkey and Thirty program. Foodshare works to alleviate hunger and poverty in the greater Hartford area by partnering with 300 local programs, pantries, kitchens and shelters to make a dent in the 420,000 Connecticut residents who are experiencing a cut to their benefits and potentially turning to charitable food-assistance programs for help. Building strong community collaborations helps Foodshare identify the root causes of hunger and poverty, and then create programs that generate sustainable change for this area.

Little did I know that my experience at Foodshare would motivate me to find out who may need help in my hometown, which is over an hour from the Hartford area. Oftentimes we assume the greatest need is in our cities and urban neighborhoods, never considering there may be a hungry family right down our own street. I admit that I never thought an affluent town in the Northeast corner where celebrity Rob Zombie resides would have people going hungry.

For the Turkey and Thirty event, the Fathom team set a goal of collecting $900 in cash donations and 30 turkeys. We kicked off our collection at the end of October and contacted friends, families and partners to help participate in this cause. In less than 4 weeks, we brought in 11 turkeys and raised $950! On November 19th, we wrapped up the turkey drive, closed Fathom’s doors and headed over to Foodshare’s headquarters in Bloomfield. For the remainder of the morning, our team completed a number of tasks to assist the extremely large and impressive operation that is unfortunately required to help feed thousands of local residents. Some of us sorted donated items, others received large shipments of turkeys from nearby groceries, we stacked boxes, created storage bags, completed backed up paperwork and even dressed up as an actual turkey to encourage outside donations.

Throughout the day we heard a number of stories from Foodshare employees or fellow volunteers about the impact this work has on so many. We greeted donors and saw their faces glow as they reached out to give. The inspiration from generous love was truly moving. For me, the experience helped me turn to my own backyard to help even more.

This past Saturday, I volunteered at the Woodbury Foodbank and even at a much smaller scale than Foodshare, this little operation pushed out hundreds of turkeys, fresh produce and loads of necessary canned goods or personal products to local families.

I walked around with a number of these individuals to find out how we could make their Thanksgiving a little better. After speaking with one woman, who has been out of a job for 6 months due to a serious pulmonary disability, I asked if she wanted a yam – one yam, since that is all we could spare. Her face lit up and she clutched that yam like it was the first one she had ever seen exclaiming, “what a treat!”

It was hard to imagine that a single vegetable could make someone so happy, but it did and that joy continued throughout the day. A young mom smiled when she learned we had some extra diapers, an elderly man shared hugs of gratitude to all the volunteers and children excitedly held up bags of chocolate chips to their parents because they couldn’t wait to bake cookies with their family.

Looking at all the clients of the Foodbank there was not a single person I would have seen on the street and thought, “that person is hungry.” My greatest lesson from Foodshare and the Woodbury Foodbank is that we can never know the true challenges people face every day. The circumstances of life can change drastically.

The Fathom crew celebrates a successful day at Foodshare! Photo credit: Seshu Badrinath, www.facebook.com/seshuphotography

Fathom is so grateful for all of the support we receive throughout the year and continue to be amazed at how the efforts of individuals can truly make a difference on the community. This week we continued to spread the word about the need for turkeys as it looked like Foodshare’s goals would fall short. It’s been amazing to watch other groups and neighbors get involved. In less than 24 hours, thanks to the community’s efforts, no family will be turned away empty handed at Foodshare this week!

We extend our warmest wishes this holiday season and hope that each of you shares a piece of the pie with someone in need.

If you’re interested in helping out Foodshare this holiday season, please visit: http://site.foodshare.org/site/PageServer?pagename=index

To find information about your local foodbank, click here: http://feedingamerica.org/foodbank-results.aspx?state=CT


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Posted by: Molly Dwyer
Email the author: mollyd@fathom.net