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Trevor and the Giant Pear Bin

Description: Family Volunteer Day showcases the benefits of families working together, introduces children under 11 years old who cannot normally volunteer for community service.

Originally posted on the Food Bank blog by
Trevor’s mommy, Cindy

As a child, my family was very active volunteering in
our local community.  We visited with convalescent patients, joined
clean-up events, participated in walk-a-thons, assisted with weekly bingo games
at the VA hospital, and much more.  But my favorite of all was sorting
food donations and filling baskets to give to those in need.  Now that I
am a mother, it is important to me that my son Trevor learns the value of
volunteering in our community.  I want him to know the joy that comes from
helping others and making a difference.

When Trevor was 2, I started researching volunteer
opportunities with the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano.  I learned
that they hold Family Volunteer Day events several times a year… but children
must be 5 years old to participate.  For three years, I have repeatedly
checked the website to make sure the minimum age was still 5.  The week my son
turned 5, I contacted Lauren Strouse and asked to be notified when the next
Family Volunteer Day was scheduled.  Finally, after waiting for years, we
attended our first Family Volunteer Day.

I was very impressed with how well the event was
run.  After a brief orientation, we were split into four groups and
rotated through the different activities.  We started with a tour of the
warehouse, where we learned all about the Food Bank, who they serve, and how
they have grown and changed over the years.  We were amazed to hear how
many millions of pounds of food the Food Bank distributes each year.

Trevor’s favorite part of the tour was looking in the
giant refrigerator that holds the perishable food.

Our next station was art.  We learned about the
“Have a Heart” budget advocacy campaign.  Then we each made valentines to
send members of the Assembly and Senate.  These will be hand-delivered to
Sacramento.

Next, we donned gloves and approached giant container
of pears.  Our job was to count out 12 pears and bag them for easy
distribution to the recipients.  This was Trevor’s favorite part of the
day.  (Mine too!)  It was very satisfying to watch our stack of
bagged pears growing and growing as we worked.  The pears looked
delicious- I was very happy to know that they would be going to people who
might otherwise not have access to the fresh produce that some people take for
granted.

At our final station, the children worked together to
create an imaginary family.  (Ours had a mom, dad, son, daughter and
cat.)  The kids took turns spinning the “Wheel of Life” to see what would
happen to our fictional family and what financial implications each event might
have.  The first spin landed on “Refrigerator breaks.”  This really
hit home, as our refrigerator stopped working right after my husband was laid
off and we found ourselves living on unemployment that covered our mortgage and nothing more.  Fortunately for us, we had savings and were still able to
afford food, but I could truly understand how devastating a broken appliance
could be to a family that was barely surviving financially.  The next spin
was “Christmas.” Our fictional family could not afford gifts or a nice
meal.  Thank goodness for the Food Bank and other organizations that help
those in need.

Family Volunteer Day is an outstanding event.  We
all learned so much and had a great time.  On the drive home, Trevor asked
when we could return to bag more produce.  Very soon, I hope!

The Next Family volunteer day takes place September 29th
from  1:30 pm to 3:30 pm by reservation only at the Food Bank of Contra
Costa and Solano’s Fairfield warehouse. Sign up online at www.foodbankccs.org/fvdfairfield
or email Lauren Strouse at lstrouse@foodbankccs.org or call (707) 421-9777
extension 235.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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