“No. Thank you for inviting me!”
I heard this sentence five separate times Saturday after I said “thank you for coming” to sweaty but happy volunteers who came to Catholic Charities Yawkey Center to pack bags of food, snacks and produce for the 1300 families and individuals we expect will come to Yawkey this week to pick up one of those bags of food.
They thanked me. They thanked me after they stood for two hours packing granola bars, applesauce, raisins and a juice boxes into brown bags. They thanked me for the hundreds of bags they opened and double bagged. They thanked me for the cases of canned goods and pasta they lifted and put into those bags lining our hallways and, they thanked me for the hundreds of pounds of potatoes they sorted and put six potatoes in smaller bags to be added to the larger bags prior to the start of our daily distribution.
They even thanked me for the workout they got as they lifted those 50 pound bags of potatoes and cases of canned goods! For some, the thanks came as they periodically checked the number of steps they took on their phone. Needless to say, all neared or hit 10,000 worthwhile steps by the time they left, feeling gratified they were able to help.
At the beginning of March, all five of our pantries were ‘choice’ pantries where those needing food would ‘shop’ for what they wanted. Today, our staff and volunteers pack the bags in advance to follow social distancing. Our goal is to make sure that every person coming to our door representing themselves or a family at home is served with a bag of food that typically weighs approximately 25 pounds. That bag is place outside the door by a staffer or volunteer with gloved hands and plastic mask over a cloth mask.
Underneath those masks is definitely a smile because whatever language those receiving that bag speaks, there is a very audible “Thank You.”
Written by Beth Chambers
Director of Catholic Charities Greater Boston and Catholic Charities South