The Christmas cookies are gone. The ham, roast beef or whatever you had for that special dinner is a distant memory. And yet, because donations tend to lag after the holidays, people in our community will go through the rest of this cold winter hungry.
Marv and Nancy Greenberg of Fargo didn’t realize exactly how close that reality would hit home until their daughter started school two years ago.
“I am a firm believer in the whole ‘pay it forward’ train of thought, and whenever possible, my husband Marv and I try to do exactly that.
“When our now-7-year-old started kindergarten at Lincoln Elementary in Fargo, little did we know how much we would put our energy into helping her school ‘family.’
“When Aliya was in first grade, she came home and asked why some of the kids in her class didn’t get to have milk or orange juice at the morning break. She also questioned why some kids were not able to partake in the monthly popcorn event the PTA held.
“When we asked her why she thought they didn’t get to enjoy the same benefits that she gets to enjoy, she realized that for some people, school snacks are a luxury.
“We met with the school principal and asked how many kindergarten and first-graders could not afford that morning beverage and were astounded to hear the cold hard facts.
“We proposed paying for all of those children who went without as long as we could break it down monthly as an expense. And so we did.
“We could go to sleep at night knowing that all of those little kids were getting the nutritional benefit of that morning milk or juice supplement. We also decided to endorse and cover the popcorn money for those who could not do it themselves that year.
“Aliya is now in second grade, and our son Ari is in kindergarten. Since the state budget included enough money to cover the milk/juice for all elementary students this year, my husband suggested making Thanksgiving food hampers for 10 families at Lincoln School.
“Again, back to a meeting with the principal. Approval was given with great excitement, and off we went to start our grocery shopping. We spent four hours shopping, sorting and packing these hampers. We were exhausted and sore but all-smiles knowing our random act of kindness went so far.
Rather than just buying the ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner for these 10 families, we decided to go all out. Each family received three giant boxes of food the Monday before Thanksgiving, and they were elated. Most of them said, ‘I get all THREE boxes?’ Amazing doesn’t begin to describe the feeling of accomplishment our family feels.
“My challenge is this – if every family who has a child attending school were to partner with one other family and ‘adopt’ a family in need in their school and go together on the cost of something like this Thanksgiving food hamper, it would maybe be the equivalent of Mom and Dad giving up their daily latte for a week in order to fund their share.
“I want your readers to realize how easy it can be to make such a huge difference in the life of a student who sits beside your child each day at school, but doesn’t have the luxury of three square meals, or a warm bed or new clothes every time they start school.”
Thanks for sharing your family’s experience, Nancy.
For those of you who would like to help, but just aren’t sure where to start, contact the Great Plains Food Bank at (701) 232-6219 or http://greatplainsfoodbank.org.
For every dollar received, the Great Plains Food Bank can buy four meals, so your money goes far in helping to feed our hungry. Also, be sure to ask about the backpack program, which helps feed kids who would go without meals on the weekend.
Our greatest asset in caring for our community is simply our desire to do so.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is an author, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday. You can also get a Daily Dose of Inspiration from Nicole at www.nicolejphillips.com.