My First Mobile Pantry

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The following are reflections from our newest Major Gift Officer, Mary Vertacic, about her first visit to one of our Mobile Pantries...

Working at a Mobile Pantry rocked my world.

It was a brisk fall morning. Many of the more than 500 participants were already in line at the site when I arrived more than an hour before distribution would begin. Passionate volunteers scurried around me. With great efficiency, they unloaded mountains of food from two semi-trailers, setting up “farmer’s market style” in the temporary space. Fueled by the positive energy of the volunteers and site coordinator, I got set for my job helping participants with frozen chicken.

One of the first people through the line was very gracious. She stopped for a moment to say thank you, adding, without our help her kids wouldn’t have been able to eat that night.

A while later, I encountered a frail, elderly man. As I helped him with his cart, I noted the ball cap he was wearing…Korean War Veteran! I thanked him for his service. He said so much in reply…never uttering a word, but tearing up as he tried to smile. Choked up, I was grateful to focus on the frozen chicken supply for a moment as I regained composure.

Near the end of the morning, I chatted with a very young, new mom. Her posture and body language suggested she felt the weight of the world. An infant car seat was propped up in her cart, her precious little one protected by a camouflage-print zip cover. When I asked about her baby, she lit up and quickly unzipped the cover. I peeked inside and saw big blue eyes peering back at me. Grateful the little one was oblivious to what was going on, I hope he grows up to know his mama is a fierce warrior who worked very hard to protect him.

In just a few hours at a mobile food pantry I got a glimpse into what’s wrong in our world…and witnessed even more examples of what is right. The energy and commitment of people helping people. The power of a resilient spirit. Incredible generosity. The gift I’ve been given to serve. And an even more powerful gift of perspective.

I celebrate this Thanksgiving with renewed gratitude.

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