Our food pantry was open on Christmas morning. We didn’t expect as many clients as a normal week but we were there to serve whoever needed us that morning. Some of our regular homeless community members were the first to trickle in. We offered up some hot ham and rolls and corn chowder while they waited for the official start of the pantry. There were Christmas greetings and lively conversations. It was slower than usual but our team of staff and volunteers were having a good time and enjoying spending time with each other and clients. A beat up car pulled up and a dad and his three kids poured out of it. The kids seemed nervous but some volunteers from a local Korean church offered them hot cocoa and an intake volunteer asked their ages. We made them hot ham sandwiches and then volunteers came out with wrapped Christmas presents for the kids. They seemed shocked. They came with their dad to get pantry food and found a group of people who gave them a warm Christmas morning with breakfast and gifts from Santa, likely far more than they ever expected that day.
A great story doesn’t have to be a good story. And this isn’t a good story. While we’re glad that Friedens can meet people where they are at and provide food and resources, it is absolutely tragic that there are systems in place that have led to this situation for this family. We don’t know any more of their story except for the tiny window that was open to us on Christmas morning, but we know their story is similar to that of so many other kids. Hopefully this family will not remember this as a Christmas morning where they had so little that they had to go to a food pantry, but instead remember that complete strangers showed kindness in a world that has been so cruel to them.
At Friedens, we’re continually chipping away at trauma by bringing kindness and gratitude to the work that we do. We hope that kindness is passed on and grows as we share it with others. At the very least, we try to build a community at our pantries based on dignity and respect, a small respite in a world filled with inequality.