Saturday, January 05, 2008

Easy giving.

As you may already know from reading the post about Brynn's birthday party, giving is a big deal in our little family. Giving has always been pretty easy and natural for me - it makes me feel good to give to others, so I'm sure that my love of giving is fueled as much by selfishness as anything. When Scott and I started going to the Cincinnati Vineyard, we got on the same page regarding giving. The Vineyard has tons of great opportunities to give (of your time, goods, or finances), but one that stood out to me was the Bag Hunger program. After church you just grab one of the provided yellow bags, fill it with non-perishable items while you do your grocery shopping that week, and then bring it back to church the following Sunday morning. The food is then distributed through the church's MercyWorks ministry. When we lived in Cincinnati I loved this program and admired the creative people who thought it up. What an easy way to give!

This Christmas I found (believe it or not) an even easier way to give. Around Thanksgiving, Whole Foods started filling grocery bags with five or six dollars worth of non-perishable food that all went together to make a meal. For example, they'd pack a bag with a box of spaghetti, a jar of spaghetti sauce, and a can of green beans or corn. Dinner in a bag. Then they put hundreds of filled bags near the cash registers - right in there with the health magazines, organic breath mints, and Burt's Bees lip balm. It was so easy to do my normal grocery shopping and pick up a bag on my way to check out. The check out clerk would charge me for the contents of the bag and then take my bag to a rack with a bunch of other purchased bags. Soon someone from Care and Share (our local food bank) would come pick up the bags and take them back to the food bank.

When I give to a food bank, I normally feel like I have to give an overflowing bag of stuff, which can cost a lot of money. Giving a bag with five or six bucks worth of food never really occurred to me, but it's so easy and reasonable. The only thing that made me sad was that I figured they'd stop the program after the holidays. Anybody who knows anything about food banks knows that they don't just need food donations in November and December.

So, when we returned from our Christmas vacation, I was pleasantly surprised by the presence of more filled bags at Whole Foods. I picked one up and when the clerk thanked me for my donation, I said something like, "Oh, no problem. I just wish you guys would have the bags available all year long." Much to my surprise, she said that they are going to continue the program. Yay! It makes me happy to be able to give in such a convenient way. Cheers to Whole Foods for continuing to support their local community!

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