Last March 2020, when Covid took hold in a really serious way, our Realtors, Chris Olson and Jill Roland, asked if I’d like to volunteer to distribute food boxes with the Farm to Families program. This program was designed by the government to buy food from farmers and then to pass it on to needy families during the worst of the pandemic, helping both farmers and families. We were all still in the shock phase of Covid, staying at home, and feeling more than a bit anxious and isolated, I immediately said yes, because I’ve found over and over that when I’m feeling that way, the best thing for me to do is to reach out to others. And since I have a van, it seemed to be a good alternative to staying home and feeling hamajang.
At first, once a week, Jill and Chris brought the boxes to our house. There were only about four boxes, so it worked out pretty well. These two are terrific people. They did a wonderful job selling our former house for us, and we became friends from there on out.
We were always masked, and their big pickups easily made it up the driveway with my boxes as well as boxes for others.
I started out delivering to just a couple of families. After a few weeks, I said I could meet Chris and Jill at their office rather than them having to drive to our place. They were really good about unloading the boxes from their rig into mine. This was the size of the first boxes, which usually contained protein and dairy items. The were meats and breads available in separate boxes.
It wasn’t long afterwards that the boxes began to get bigger, with more goodies in them. There was milk, cheese, meats, and breads, along with apples, onions, and potatoes. Grocery stores contributed breads and sometimes frozen meats.
The breads usually came in one box, and the meats in another. By this time, I was was picking up food for several more families. In one, the dad was out of work, and the other, the man was disabled and couldn’t work. I was fortunate that these two men could come to the house to pick up their boxes. Nolemana and I stacked their boxes on our rock wall for them.
I also took a weekly food box to a special friend of mine who’s extremely creative and living on a very limited budget. She has called me “Singing Flower” for years (don’t you just love it!), and had a special badge made for me to wear on my deliveries. I wore it faithfully every week and my other peeps got a kick out of it too.
I asked some friends who both employed farm workers in their businesses, if they could use some food boxes. Oh yes, they sure could! So soon, my deliveries included these people. I added more boxes to my weekly stash, and the back of my van got fuller.
When the ice storm hit in January and we couldn’t get down our driveway for several days, I was really concerned about being able to get my deliveries done as well as to my other families, but the wonderful young man who picked up deliveries for his family shoveled two tire tracks for us when the snow and ice began to melt, and I was able to make my deliveries as scheduled. Getting up was scarier than going down because I had to follow the tracks exactly right or I’d slip off. Going down, my mantra was, “Look where you want to go, not where you are!”
It didn’t take long for me to be picking up and delivering twelve to fourteen boxes a week! I also added another family where the husband was out of work. My deliveries took me all over Sunshine Valley and from there to Gresham, and usually took me a couple of hours. We all observed social distancing, and it was a positive experience for all of us, also enabling us to renew and strengthen friendships.
One week at the nursery, I had a helper.
Lewis made sure I was doing things right, then left. (Hahahaha… right then left. Hee hee!)
He then supervised the unloading from his throne.
The farm workers and the families I delivered to were oh, so grateful for the food. And it blessed me immensely to be able to help out this way. By this time, I was meeting Chris and Jill at a local nursery to make things easier for all of us. Their pickup was packed to overflowing each week; they were wonderful about making sure the food was picked up at the distribution center, then getting it to those of us who were part of the delivery system.
View at the nursery:
Each week, I could see spring arriving in our valley wherever I went.
One time, I even saw a murder of crows.
Compared to my small four boxes at the beginning, this is what my van looked like every week now. I even had some boxes in the middle seats sometimes. By now, more breads, meats, dairy items, and fresh fruits had been added to the boxes. Sometimes I even got bakery items to distribute!
Remember the friend who made my badge for me? Well, one week, I had another visitor: my friend’s young chicken, Odessa, and what a sweetie she was!
Last week I met Chris and Jill at the nursery. Their business had a new name, but they were the same friendly, enthusiastic, and special, friends. They’d already loaded my van and were on their way to their next stop.
This was a bittersweet meeting, though, because as of that day, June 3rd, the program was ending. We’d been doing this for fifteen months together, on a weekly basis except for one two-week period between programs when we didn’t have deliveries. It was sad for everyone in the program, and I felt bad that the needy families wouldn’t have their boxes each week. .
At the same time, I feel enormously blessed to have participated in something bigger than myself. Helping others really did help me get through the most critical stage of the pandemic. It gave me a tiny bit of social time, got me out of the house, and most importantly, gave me the opportunity to really help others who were struggling in their own ways.
Pau for now, but who knows what other opportunities might turn up? I’m not putting the seats back up yet, because a couple of months ago we had a couple of trees taken down, and I’ll be taking the wood to my friend whose only source of heat is her woodstove. I’ll get to see Odessa again, too! My car might be empty now, but my heart is full.