Counting my blessings | GUEST OPINION

I wept in the car when I left the Marysville Food Bank. In the passenger seat, my friend didn’t interrupt, certain I had no immediate reason for unhappy tears. And she was right, of course. I was crying for joy.

What thought had I ever given to our local food bank? Yes, I had put a can of something from my grocery bags into the barrel at the store when it was manned (usually womanned) and its sentry asked me to do so. Stuff from my pantry shelves, mostly esoteric and unused for months since purchase, went to a girlfriend’s annual drive at her office. A can or two went to the local casino’s outreach, when it offered five bucks free play for each donation. My visual concept was, I fear, of the downtrodden and homeless being handed bunches of wilted carrots by dour do-gooder clerks.

I was in for a surprise, and challenge you to take a walk through the lines at 6518 60th Drive NE. The desk clerk who verified my friend’s eligibility and issued the wooden token that added federal commodities to her choices was more courteous than the receptionist at my beauty shop. A smiling volunteer handles the cart for each shopper, many of whom are elders. He/she explains the choices, does the reaching and lifting and keeps the lines moving. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that this week’s federal commodities were Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and an off brand of creamed corn.

Her cart soon filled with frozen meats, cheese, eggs, produce and canned goods, mostly donations from local businesses. (Another volunteer told me that the grocery/department store where I shop had just given them $18,000 to replace a freezer.) She scored a bag of dinner rolls from the huge bread selection, delighted to have something to take to a mid-week potluck. I made a silent vow to put something worthwhile in the donation barrel each trip to the store.

So, why was I weeping? Counting my blessings caused some of the flood. But it began at the next-to-last stop of my friend’s cart. “Do you need cat food?” asked the volunteer. Many single elders have only their pets for companions, and I was touched by this outreach. Then, at the door, the happy man who wheeled our cart and unloaded our groceries was also distributing from a case of egg dyes and a pile of colorful plastic baskets. The children of young families who are food-bank eligible would not be without a back yard egg hunt, and these items were not surplus. It was two weeks before Easter. Our food bank and its generous suppliers seem to know that man does not live by bread alone.

J.R. Nakken is a writer who lives on Tulalip.


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