The holidays can be such a crazy time. And just as the madness begins to settle down, Chris and I celebrate our anniversary on January 19. It always seems crazy to spend more money on gifts at that time, so we’ve come up with a different way to celebrate. Chris and I each choose a unique charity (one we think the other will particularly appreciate) and we make a donation in the other’s name. This year, when the devastation of Hurricane Sandy hit, we thought our anniversary donation would be much better spent going to the victims of Sandy. This year, we also wanted to donate our time. So we researched groups that were doing particularly great work and found Occupy Sandy. We spent the day working in their kitchen in Bay Ridge which serves over 1000 healthy meals per day to residents who are struggling to rebuild their lives.
When we arrived at the kitchen, which is housed in a local church, it was bustling with volunteers. There were local neighbors and small groups from schools and community programs. People with all different backgrounds came together to help out.
They were working from donated food which is no small feat. Most food was not donated in bulk. There were a few boxes of pasta thrown in with a few cans of vegetables next to a random jar of seasoning. Chris and I spent most of the day taking inventory so the chefs could know what they had to work with. If you’ve ever seen the food competition Chopped, it’s just like that! Below, are photos of my husband and the chef studying the shelves trying to find ingredients that would work together in large enough bulk.
The food was prepared in a small kitchen by volunteers who changed day to day. That day’s chef had culinary experience cooking for small groups but not in bulk. And still, she did an extraordinary job! The food was packaged, put in large containers and sent to central distribution centers (often people’s homes or other temporary locations) where they were picked up or delivered to those who needed them. It was an amazing and efficient operation! But it could only happen with the tireless efforts of those who volunteered day to day.
My hat goes off to the hard working volunteers of Occupy Sandy! I hope you will also consider volunteering your time or money to them. While the Bay Ridge Kitchen where we worked is about tho close, there are still many other opportunities within the network to volunteer. Be sure to check them out at http://interoccupy.net/occupysandy/.