Friday, November 30, 2012

Tis the Season for Giving...

I try to keep my personal life just that...personal. Every once in a while I do feel the need to drop the curtain and reveal deep and personal things about myself. Today is one of those days. Please bear with me for a minute while I explain. The bottom of this post is so VERY IMPORTANT.

For the past 2 years my family has been on an uphill climb. It all started when I lost my job, then dh lost his. Things went from really good to really bad fast.

As a family of 7 you can't just change your bills/life overnight when the large paychecks stop. We have dealt with much loss over the past 2 years. The hardest part for me was making sure we always had food...no easy feat for a family of 7. I have 4 boys here with hollow legs and a girl that gives them a run for their money...not to mention dh and I.

Food is expensive. Eating healthy is even more expensive. There were times that I would go days without eating so that my kids could have food. There were nights that I would cry myself to sleep because I knew my kids were hungry. It has been HORRIBLE.

Dh and I had no choice we went to the Food Banks for help. They were wonderful. On our Saturday to go the kids and I would volunteer before we got our bags. I learned that it was an oddity for a family receiving to donate time. I don't understand that. I was so grateful for the help...as were our children...that delivering groceries to those that needed help too, was an honor for us.

I learned a lot at these food banks the past couple of years. Things that I feel are so valuable, that I MUST open this part of my life to you and share.

1. Food Banks are life savers...literally!
2. Lots of canned goods get donated...very few perishables do and are greatly in need. (milk, bread, cheese, fresh vegetables)
3. A TON of work goes into these food banks. All persons helping at the food banks are volunteers. They are needed all through the week. Not just on pick-up days.
4. The holiday's are stressful enough without money...let alone without food.

Here is the thing....

Childhood hunger is HUGE in this country. I have seen this first hand. I was ALWAYS astounded at how many people would turn up at the food bank. I got there late one day and my number was 101!

I have seen how the other half lives. It was a huge eye-opener for me. We are so blessed to live in such and amazing, loving & giving community. My family survived hell because of their kindness and time.

We are steadily getting back on our feet. My husband has an amazing job and 2013 is looking bright. It's time to give back. We put a challenge out to our children this holiday season, they must all come up with a way to give back to our community this year. I already have mine:

I am committed in every way to help end childhood hunger. NO CHILD should ever have to go to bed hungry. When children don't have food...it consumes their every thought...trust me.

There are so many ways you can all help...it takes so little to make such a huge, positive impact on a family this holiday season. A company "adopted" our family last year, unbeknownst to us, and delivered an entire Christmas Dinner to us. We had no idea. People showed up on our doorstep with bags full of holiday food. Ham, pies, rolls, potatoes etc. I burst into tears when I saw them. The local food bank gave them our name and address. An incredible act of kindness. I am doing the same for another family this year. The sheer joy on my children's faces when those kind- hearted souls walked in with bags of food is more than I could possibly describe.

If you are looking for a way to make a difference this year I urge you to help a hungry child/family.

*Find a local food bank and volunteer. Many churches/temples run these.

*Donate perishable items (trust me when I tell you that they have more rice, oatmeal and canned goods to last until the Zombie Apocalypse)
-you will need to contact your local food bank to find out when someone could be there to accept the perishables and what they can accept. Most have refrigerators/freezers there.

*Donate gift cards to the Food Banks so they can shop for what they need.

*Put together a Pie crust, pudding and whipped topping, wrap all 3 with a bow and donate. Desserts are hard to come by when you have no money and every child LOVES getting a fun dessert when they have them at the Food bank.

*Ask your local grocer if they have day old cakes, cupcakes, bagels, breads etc. from the bakery section, tell them you are donating to the local food bank. Most will give them to you, they usually just toss them. BJ's does this for lots of people.

*Go to NOKIDHUNGRY.org and make a donation OR find out more ways that you can help in your own community. It's an amazing site. It is for the children of the U.S. It's time we helped our own.



Please help feed a hungry child/family this holiday season. The sheer amount of people who are struggling is astonishing. I saw people at the food banks that I never expected to see. It could be your neighbor for all you know. Most are too ashamed to admit they receive help.

Together we can ensure that no kid goes hungry this holiday season.

Thank you and God Bless.

Michelle

12 comments:

Ashley Nguyen Newell said...

You're very brave to share this. I know a lot of people don't like admitting that they have gotten help. And I think it's wonderful that you and your kids volunteered at the food bank. What a wonderful example to set! I dealt with hunger when I was a child. Breakfast was a bit of stale bread and watered down milk. People these days don't know what it's like to REALLY be poor. People think because they can't shop for clothes at the fancy mall stores, then they are "poor." Thank you for spreading light on this situation and I'm SO glad that 2013 is looking bright for you guys! Giant hugs!

Beate said...

I am not good with words, but I whole heartily agree with what Ashley said.
Thanks for sharing your story! Here is to a wonderful and plentyful 2013 for you!
Hugs and smiles

Leslie Hanna said...

Wow, you really are brave, but what a strong message. I am always amazed how our government feels the need to help other countries when so many of our own go hungry every day.

I do give to the food banks through work and through the local groceries, but they only take non-perishables. No one has ever explained how to donate perishables. And gift cards - so smart!

Thank you. And I'm so glad to hear you're getting back on your feet!

Leslie Hanna said...

PS: There are only organized food drives around the holidays, too, which always rubbed me wrong. People look at me crazy when I ask them if people might also be hungry in February. ;/

Michelle said...

Thank you ALL for your kind words. I don't feel brave. I just feel that I need to be a voice for those that can't/won't speak for themselves. If I have learned one thing these past few years it is that you do what you have to do in order to survive. When the car industry crashed we crashed with it. It took a long time to dig out of the rubble...we still are feeling some repercussions of it but I see a big light at the end of the tunnel finally. A lot of people don't. I feel that I MUST speak out about this. It does no good to keep it to myself.

If even just one family has a better holiday season because of this post I will feel that progress is being made.

Leslie, I too get frustrated that most Food Drives happen around Christmas. Our city is hugely committed to this...so I have seen the effects of this wonderful work in progress. I want to make sure that it continues.

May you all have a blessed 2013.

Michelle

Leslie Germain said...

Michelle - thanks for sharing your story. I will make sure to donate to my local foodbank. I have brought food before and have seen the people come in to get food while I was there (that was an eye opener for me). The Community Services in our area is one of my regular donating places. I like to know that the food I donate is going back to the people in need that live in the same town as me. Wishing you and your family a happy, healthy and blessed New Year.

Libby Hickson said...

Thank you for sharing your personal story and your heart, Michelle. I was already thinking I wanted to do something like this with the kids (I have to check how young volunteers can be) and even mentioned it to them last night after, of all things, watching the movie Santa Buddies - it was about the spirit of Christmas & we were talking about wanting to help others in the spirit of the holiday. Anyway, your post has made me positive that I *NEED* to do this and I'll be figuring out just what we'll be doing in the coming days. Thanks again for sharing, and I'm SO GLAD that things are turning around for you, sweet friend.

Joy said...

I have no doubt in my mind that you have touched so many lives out there just by you typing up this very personal post..you touched my heart and my only wish was that I was able to help you more then just be the shoulder and listening ears that you needed at times...

You are an angel sent to all of us Michelle and I am so proud and honoured to call you my friend..

Love you dearly and my hope and wish is that no child or family ever go hungry again as is yours...

Cher said...

well God Bless YOU and YOURS! you are amazing...I cried thru this post cuz I have seen this childhood hunger often when I was working with less fortunate folks. We (my family) feels very much like you. We have worked the food bank here...started long ago when my kids needed to do community service work for NHS...and we haven't quit! Our church, our gym, our 2 favorite groceries here all have big boxes for anyone to donate food. At least annually the postman picks up food and our neighborhood scout troop also collect 2x per year...I urge all your readers to give what they can. The baskets are amazing for these families...and u are so right...The kids faces let you know it is all appreciated. ty for sharing...and I will pray for a bright future for all in 2013.

Elizabeth Campau said...

Michelle,
i have been in your footsteps, except mine came from a divorce and an ex who refuses to keep up with his child support obligations.

I started a Domestic Violence employment agency, because I knew first hand how hard it is for victims to leave their middle and upper income homes and often they don't have a good employment history due to the abuse.

I would urge everyone to please check with their food pantries on perishables, many do not have the refrigeration/freezer space available. In those cases paper towels, toilet paper, foil, napkins, detergent, fabric softener would be very welcomed.
And you are so right the need is always there, especially in the summer when donors are on vacation.

I am so glad you can see a light at the end of the tunnel:) And even better that you had the courage to reach out to others. Please give your children a bug hug from our family.

Elizabeth
http://visionsofpaper.blogspot.com/

Michelle said...

Elizabeth, thank you for your post! I am sorry that you too have had to deal with such harsh circumstances. Thank you for sharing.

Yes, as I said...you must contact your local food pantries to see what they can and are allowed to accept for perishables. My food bank has an incredible amount of refrigerator/freezer space but we always check before hand.

Toothpaste, toilet paper, shampoo, etc are always welcomed. The Jewish Temple always gave us those things and it was always such a relief to find them in the bag. They add up every month. I never realized how much I depended on paper towels until I could no longer afford them...they became a luxury. Crazy.

The little things we take for granted can mean so much to a family who is struggling.

Thank you all for your love and support. You have given me a true gift by being so kind and inspiring. It is so hard to put yourself out there like this but again...the knowledge I gained over the past 2 years is invaluable and it HAD to be shared.

God Bless each and every one of you. You have given me more strength and more hope for the future for the struggling families in this economy.

Kelly Booth said...

Awe....Sweet Girl...I am so Very touched by your story and you are so right we all need to help out not just at Christmas but all year! I am so Happy you all are doing so much better and know how hard the past couple of years must have been. Big Kisses and Hugs to you....I hope your Holiday season is the Best Ever!!