Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summer of Sevice - 363 days...

As summer rolls on we continue to learn and grow from serving the Lord and those around us.  In keeping with our previous theme of helping to fight hunger, we chose a project that would directly affect our own community.  While researching ideas for our Summer of Service, I stumbled upon an organization called 363 Days

Each year, various organizations put together programs for Thanksgiving and Christmas to help feed, clothe and take care of those less fortunate. There is a remarkable amount of time, energy and money that goes into these programs. An honest question, pondered by those who participate is, "What happens the other 363 days of the year?"  363 Days was established with the other days in mind. Their starting goal was to help feed 150 homeless people in Minneapolis as many times a year as possible, with the ultimate goal of doing it every day of the year. Today, they are feeding about 2,000 people per day!

Volunteering for this organization is pretty simple, and perfect for children.  All you need is a commitment to purchase the supplies and find the time and place to make many as you want to assemble.  I loved the idea of being able to do something so easy that could impact someone we might just see regularly near our home in the city.  The whole family was once again able to serve in some capacity for this project...and we even timed this one around a visit we would be having with my 4 yr old niece so we (especially the kids) could begin teaching and sharing with someone else the value of serving others.

We as a family had committed to supply 300 sandwiches to this organization.  I wanted a challenging number so it wasn't so short the kids didn't have time to process what they were doing.  Since my husband would be working the next day, he and I went shopping for the supplies (so he could participate in some capacity).  We bought 15 loaves of bread,  4 big packages of cheese, 12 packages of turkey slices and 2 boxes of ziploc baggies.  In the morning, I moved all the chairs away from the dining room table and set the kids up in an assembly line.  I let them come up with their own rhythm of working together and just helped ease some of the hiccups along the way.

As you can see, they managed just fine!

The three younger kids mostly assembled the sandwiches and the older two mostly packed them up and prepared them for delivery.

The kids also had fun trying to keep their little cousin on task.  They learned quickly that she needed to rotate her job often to stay interested, but she did a great job!!  We think her favorite thing to do was to line the sandwiches up in rows and count them!

Once every sandwich was sealed, packed and stacked we bagged them up and took a ride to a delivery location, which for us happened to be a small business that put a chest freezer in their office to store the sandwiches that come in.

363 Days then sends a truck around once a week to all the drop off locations throughout the city to pick up sandwich donations and stores them in their main freezer, which has the capacity to hold 50,000 sandwiches on any given day until they are ready to be taken out into the community to feed those in need.
It took us a little over an hour to make 312 sandwiches!!  That's 312 times someone will get a light meal because of our family.  A sandwich doesn't seem like much to most of us but I know many people are incredibly grateful to receive one if they are hungry and have trouble affording a meal.  Not only does the sandwich nourish their body, but I'd also like to believe that some of those people are touched by more than just getting food...maybe they learn about the love of God through others?  Or they receive a boost of self esteem and worth if they notice people take the time to make sure they are fed?  That's my hope.  It's pretty incredible the impact you can make in such a short amount of time...

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