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I volunteered at the food bank today.  It was a very enjoyable experience.  All I did was sort boxes of donations into several different categories.  Apparently they do a couple sortings afterward, and this was just the preliminary one.  (I did find it rather counter-intuitive to have a box labeled "misc" when sorting).  But I liked to think that I was contributing to a good cause.

A little bit after I got there, a group of businessmen came in and started helping.  I guess because I was already there (and I was wearing a grey shirt, which the staff members were wearing) they treated me like I knew more than they did.  It was fun.  Half the time, I just went with it and told them what to do, even though I had no clue.  But it was so much fun watching how excited some of these guys got thinking that they're helping out with the food bank.  I felt like their facial expressions on the inside, but I'm not very expressive myself.  It was kind of like watching children on Christmas morning, but sort of backward.

While I was there, I saw some posters on the wall that said that one in four East Tennesseeans was at-risk for going hungry today.  I didn't realize it was that bad.  I had no idea that there were that many people who literally didn't know if they'd be eating today or not.  One in four seems to be pretty high.  I would like to think that all of the people I know don't have to worry about being able to afford food, but maybe they're struggling silently and I don't even know.

After I was done with my 3-hour shift, I stopped by Cracker Barrel on my way home.  When I walked in, the hostess asked if I wanted the breakfast menu.  I didn't know, so I asked for both.  I sat there at my table thinking here I have two full tri-fold menus replete with options of food that I can just purchase and have prepared for me.  And I can afford this.  And all the while, there are 25% of my fellow Knoxvillians (not to be confused with Knoxvillains) that can't do that.  They may not even get a meal today--or perhaps a meager one.  The food didn't taste quite so good when I had that thought.  I felt like I was choking on guilt with every swallow.

I've often faced this dilemma.  Where do I draw the line between providing a nice life for myself and sharing what I have with others?  I've never wanted a mansion.  I don't believe I'll ever make enough money in my life to afford one anyway.  But, even in an alternate reality where I was a millionaire, I would not be comfortable living in an oversized home while knowing that other people didn't even have any shelter at all.  But, where do I draw the line?  I don't need a computer.  Should I have not bought one, and spent the money instead on helping the poor?  I don't know.  I like to do what I can to help others out.  But sometimes I wonder if some of the stuff I buy for myself is excessive, and if I'm "grinding the face of the poor" (to quote Isaiah).

At any rate, I came across this great opportunity the other day in one of the Facebook groups that I'm in.  It's a response to the Chick-Fil-A fiasco.  Someone had a great idea.  What did people do on Chicken Pride Day?  They went to CFA and bought chicken sandwiches to show their opposition to marriage equality.  They bought food for themselves.  So, someone decided, why don't we buy food for other people--for those who are starving.  I think it's an excellent idea, and I mean to participate in the event.  Just like with Chicken Day, they've set a specific date and we're going to go to our local food banks--wherever we are--and donate food to people who can't afford it.  Of all of the counter-protests that I've heard of, this is the best.  And it's the only one I've felt comfortable participating in.  I've heard of people vandalizing CFAs, a few friends invited me to the kiss-in, and suggested that I go ask for free water.  Well, I don't mean to criticize anyone who feels like that's their way of standing up to the bigotry that Dan Cathy expressed.  But, I just didn't feel comfortable doing so.  But, I can put my whole support behind this measure.

I would recommend to everyone to donate food and volunteer time at their food bank.  There's probably a much greater need than you're aware of.  Why not go out and be part of the problem, rather than just worry about yourself?  Even if you don't support gay rights.  Even if you hate gay people.  Just go out and do something good.

Here is a link to the event on Facebook, if you have Facebook.  Otherwise, the date is August 25th.  That's one week from this Saturday.  Go to your food bank and make a donation.  Give food, give money, give time, give whatever you can.  And not just to prove that we're better than the chicken-eating haters.  But because there are people who are hungry.  There are people who are going without--for whatever reason--and because we have the means to help them.  This is our time to shine.  Help out a person in need.  Help out those that are hungry and homeless.  Love your fellow man.
Because I have been given much, I too must give.  Because of thy great bounty, Lord, each day I live.  I shall divide my gifts from thee with every brother that I see who has the need of help from me. 

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