Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sharing our gifts

If you've been reading my blog for at least a year, you might recall that I wrote a lot about food last summer. In one post, I complained about an email I received requesting donations for a food pantry -- donations of food-like substances, such as Jell-o, which have absolutely no nutrition in them. I spent a lot of months thinking about that problem, and in January, I presented an idea to my church. Would anyone be interested in helping to create a garden for the purpose of donating fresh produce to a shelter, soup kitchen, or food pantry? The response was an overwhelming yes!

People gave of their time, money, seeds, equipment, and enthusiasm. In April, we dedicated our garden space and built six raised beds. Then in May, we planted. For the past few weeks, we have been harvesting cucumbers, green onions, squash, beets, and green peppers to donate to Morningstar Mission, a homeless shelter and soup kitchen in Joliet, IL. Soon, our 24 tomato plants will start to ripen hundreds of pounds of tomatoes.

Last Friday, seven of us visited Morningstar to learn more about their needs and how we can help them with our garden. It was inspiring and educational, and I realized that they are grateful for every single cucumber or tomato we donate. They serve 20 meals a week -- breakfast, lunch, and dinner Monday through Saturday, and breakfast and dinner on Sunday. Most meals average 150 to 200 guests, but it has hit 300. Jackie Kinney, who gave us the tour, said that three years ago, their average meal served only about 75, but the downturn in the economy has caused a huge increase in demand. It's a beautiful facility funded almost entirely with private donations. They do so much to help their guests rise up out of poverty and live better lives.

There is so much that I want to do, but I'm not rich. Still, I have gifts that can be shared. One of the lessons that I have to continually relearn is that just because I can't do everything does not mean that I shouldn't do whatever I can. Right now, our little garden and our handful of volunteers can provide fresh vegetables for people who need them, and that's a good thing.


Michelle said...

Our church started a community garden last year, and it looks even better this year. I must admit I am not sure how all the produce is shared (I think some goes to our local Union Gospel Mission), but I think it's such a great service.

clink said...

We are richer than we think, Deborah. We have incredible lives that we openly share with others. And that's pretty durn awesome!

Cool on the church garden... I need to get involved in that but I can barely get a handle on my own. But we did the benefit here and that works too.

Congrates on all your hard work. We are all so proud of you.

LindaG said...

Amen. Congratulations and God Bless. :)

Gail said...

Thank you for making a difference

Nancy K. said...

that's a VERY good thing...

MaskedMan said...

"There is so much that I want to do, but I'm not rich. Still, I have gifts that can be shared."

That is the great lesson. You do not have to pull the cart all by yourself. You don't even need to be the prime mover. All that is asked is that you put your hand to the cart, somewhere, and help push.

When enough people lend a hand, mountains move.

skippymom said...

how wonderful. this post nearly brought tears to my eyes. such gifts.

i especially like what maskedman wrote.

you and your church are indeed, moving mountains.

nicely done.

[my vert word is "troweel" - i know it is incorrectly spelled, but how apropos :) ]

Sunflower Hill Farm said...

Our church, too, has a garden, started 3 years ago by my 70 year of FIL! We are providing at least 4 local food pantries with food each week. It's a wonderful service and something these pantries don't receive very often. Funny, we're in the most agricultural county in WI and the food pantries jump for joy at fresh produce. Congrats on making a difference!

Laura said...

That's really neat that you and your church do that.


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