This week I had my kids join me in a “new experience.” It was school term holidays and for some time we had been looking for a way to be of service together as a family. Our kids need to know how lucky they are, how there are many who are not as fortunate, and that their time can and should be used to help others in their community.
I had been on Facebook passing time when I came across a post on our local parent’s page and read about a neighbour looking to get their kid to volunteer over the break. Many parents offered suggestions of organisations that charge a fee to volunteer. This is all well and good but at $40 per kid it’s not a cheap outing (lesson) for us. I’d like to believe that there is a way to help where the price is our time.
We discovered that there was an ongoing food service in a local church every Tuesday evening. I shared it my three little people and they were down. It started in an hour so we had a quick dinner and drove over to the church to find out how we could help.
The organisation is called the Gift of Bread. GOB receives the unsold breads and pastries from bakeries all across Sydney and redistributes it to people who need it: homeless, elderly, rehabilitations centres, and community centres. They believe in sharing food that would otherwise be wasted. It’s run by volunteers who spend a small amount of time in the evening re-packing the foods into bags which is then dropped off to those in need. It’s a lovely idea that every community should be implementing.
As an aside, we as a family have really enjoyed the recent docu-series called the War on Waste. We all learnt so much about how much trash we create, how it’s processed, it’s impact on the environment, and recycling. The amount of food wasted each day is staggering. Couple that with the amount of people who go hungry and it all seems so unnecessary.
We have been keen to make changes to how much trash we create and how we dispose of it in a smart way. Being at the church tonight and seeing just how much bread gets tossed was appalling and we were so very grateful that someone was doing something about it.
In the church hall there were around 20 people who volunteered alongside of us. While we waited for the bread delivery to arrive we chatted up the others in the room. There were so many wonderful and friendly local families whom we had never met before. The peninsula that we live on really isn’t that large yet still there are 4 distinct neighbourhoods with their own schools. Most families volunteering attended the catholic school associated with the church so we really didn’t know anyone but left feeling like we had made some new friends.
Baked goods were brought in, we separated them by type (loaves in one bag, buns in packs of five, poppy seeds kept separately so as not to go to the rehab centres and set off the drug tests.) The kids were given tasks and they worked for an hour collaboratively with others. I glanced at them from time to time to make sure they were ok and I was impressed with their attention to their given roles. They didn’t stray or mess around but were focused and happy.
In the end it was amazing to see just how much food we had all packed. It really didn’t take us long to complete our jobs as the group worked so quickly together. Once finished the kids and I stopped to examine how much was being redistributed and saved from the bin. It was just one neighbourhood with two bakeries worth and the thought of how many more all over the world that might be chucking it all out was depressing. We felt a warmth in our heart for the Gift of Bread, the kind folks who volunteer and the thought that we helped someone to eat for another day.
We left glowing. The kids begged me to go back next week and to make it a regular practice for us.
Here is a great article about the Gift of Bread which spotlights our local Balmain location.