I was taught to help others, and to share. Years ago, my now-ex and I were working at a veterinary practice during evenings, weekends, and holidays, in exchange for a place to stay. Since we were ‘stuck’ there for holidays, we spent that time alone and made our own meals. The problem with Thanksgiving is that it’s nearly impossible for two people to eat an entire turkey. Also, since we couldn’t leave the area, we usually resorted to renting videos from the local video store for something to do once we had finished taking care of the boarding animals. (I did say “years ago” – this was before Redbox and Netflix) I noticed that the employees at the video store were also stuck, and working, on the holidays. So, we packed up a box of turkey dinners, and took them, still steaming hot, to the people at the video store. They loved it so much, they gave us a bunch of credits for free rentals! It became a tradition.
Fast forward many years, and many changes. I now have children, and a new husband. We still don’t finish the entire turkey, and video stores are gone. One year, we took half a turkey (as well as freshly made bread, side dishes, and even some fresh fruit) and drove around, looking for someone who could use it. We finally found a sweet little old lady who was pushing one of those little carts you can buy for taking home your purchases from food shopping. She gratefully accepted all that we had, and explained that she had gone for some produce, and that her children and grandchildren were all waiting for her at home. We were so happy to help her, and also to avoid wasting precious food.
This past holiday season, we wanted to find a better way to help those in need, without driving around for an hour looking for someone! We already knew about different organizations that accept donations of non-perishable foods for their food banks. There’s also Philabundance, a wonderful organization that collects excess produce from people with home gardens. We just didn’t know of any place that would accept already cooked food. My husband went online, and found a place in Upper Darby called Life Center of Eastern Delaware County that has what is basically a soup kitchen (in addition to other services), and they said they would be happy to take already prepared meals. We took a big box full of turkey, stuffing, a homemade pie, homemade bread, and some fresh fruit. We also stopped and bought three gallons of milk. I had been very sad to learn that many children whose families rely on food banks get very little fresh milk. It made sense to me – food banks generally only accept non-perishable foods, but even ones who accept other items rarely get things such as milk. After we bought the milk (thank you, Wawa, for being open that day), we drove to Upper Darby to drop off the food. The women there greeted us, and thanked us for helping. We noticed there were many people sitting at long tables, eating whatever was available. Many had macaroni and cheese, or pizza. Some were even standing outside in the cold, eating their meals off of styrofoam plates. We were so happy to be able to help provide meals to those in need. It was a reminder of how blessed we truly are. And I guarantee you that, as much as we like turkey, we got more pleasure out of the half of the turkey that we gave away than the half we didn’t.
I know many people participate in canned food drives, and find other ways to help. I urge you to consider finding a place that accepts meals, as well. I look forward to taking more meals to Life Center in Upper Darby in the future.