Wednesday afternoon, I was a volunteer.
I had an appointment to meet with Jeanean Othman, the director of the Mosque Foundation Food Pantry, to discuss partnering up with Uniting America. As it turns out, the second and fourth Wednesday of every month the pantry gets a truckload full of supplies from the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Since my meeting landed on one of those days, I thought, 'what better way to understand the work the food pantry does than to roll up my sleeves and pitch in myself?' And pitch in I did.
Besides me, there were four others unloading the truck. Jeanean, June, Ibrahim, and Muhammad, are the four troopers who regularly volunteer to unload the donations from the truck those Wednesday afternoons. We took the boxes of tomatoes, baby carrots, chicken, summer sausage, butter milk, hamburger patties, blueberry muffin mix, potatoes, white onions, and much, much more and, playing a real-life version of Tetris, fit each box onto a shelf or in a freezer. Because Jeanean, June, Ibrahim, and Muhammad have been volunteering together for so long, they have developed a close relationship and spent our time unloading the truck laughing and joking with one another. June and I spent a lot of time chatting about all things, from her involvement with the food pantry to what her kids are studying in school. What a pleasant time!
A little bit about the Mosque Foundation Food Pantry: it is entirely run by volunteers. Although it was established by the Mosque Foundation, the pantry serves anyone in the area who is in need--no one is turned away. From 10-1 on Monday mornings, volunteers distribute food to a queue that wraps around the block. On average during those three hours, the pantry serves 300 people! What an impact a group of volunteers can have!