Every Thursday and Friday since the Stay at Home Directive, I have been going shopping and packing food for the Little Pantry. I pack the food in bags to distribute to our dedicated volunteers who check the pantry and restock it on their chosen day. The pantry is checked at least once a day, rain or shine. Sunday is my day to fill the pantry and that is when I distribute the bags. The volunteers also communicate by email regularly sharing experiences.
Today, I met two of our customers. One was a lady who was so excited to find a box of tampons. She said, “I really need these”. She has three boys and told me the past few weeks have been so hard. She was so appreciative and helped carry the bags to the cars of the volunteers. I would have liked to know more about her, but did not ask to respect her privacy. I gave her a few extra items, knowing it would only last a couple of days at best.
The next visitor was a gentleman I had met before. He seemed “greedy” to me at the time taking everything of what he chose. He even looked in my car wanting more. I told him we needed to leave food and toilet paper for other people. Today, he brought a bag and again emptied the pantry and started looking in my car for more. I had told him before about the Columbia Cares food sites and he asked me to write the information down and then asked me to read it to him. I asked him how many children he has. He has three children plus his 70 year old mother and 50 year old uncle living with him and he said, “they eat a lot”. Seven people to feed!! No wonder he wants (needs) so much food and toilet paper. I asked him he was getting the food for his children from the Howard County Schools and he said he didn’t know anything about it. He wanted to know where. I asked him if the schools send emails or text messages and he said his children got laptops for classes. And then he asked me to read the directions to the instant mashed potato package and he repeated what I said as I read it as though he was memorizing it. English is not his first language and it occurred to me that he and his family are missing out because he (they) can’t read English. I wanted to ask more questions so I could help, but did not want to embarrass him.
These are two of our UUCC neighbors. It’s no longer just kids walking by who want a snack or a senior who is supplementing their social security check. These are families. They need us to help them survive, even if it is just enough food for a day. When we donate food or money for the food insecurity program, we know who it is helping. There is no middle man or national organization. It is UUCC practicing its values. I wish we could do more.