Lessons From Giving

As part of Community Foundation week, our CKCF staff, board and friends of the foundation went out in the community to do some volunteering. It sounded like a good idea a month ago when we planned it. But when today came it was just one of those days. And then someone came by the office to visit right before I needed to walk out the door. So as I drove, late, to volunteer at Feeding America, my heart wasn’t really in it. Which isn’t a good thing, especially since we were doing this on World Kindness Day.

Hopefully, you’ve seen some big news from CKCF and Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland. We are so excited about the estate gift they received and how it will make a forever impact through their endowment fund. So it just seemed fitting for Feeding America to be one of our volunteer destinations.

There was a group of local students in the volunteer center working when I walked into the warehouse. I think the staff member who took me in felt a little bad leaving me in a room full of high energy students. I went over to a table where they were assembling boxes and met a young lady. She was quick to tell me she could teach me how to assemble the box. After a few minutes, we divided up duties. I folded boxes and she taped them. Then we passed them off to some boys who put info sheets in them and took them to the assembly line where they were packing food in the boxes to go out for senior citizens. Another line was packing food for backpacks to go home with students, so they have food on the weekend.

When the girl’s teacher walked by, she stopped to tell him she had taught “the lady” how to build a box. A few minutes later when I went to get another stack of boxes, I heard her telling a friend that she taught me how to build a box. Before she left for the day, I heard her tell four more people.

As we worked, she was quick to start talking. She said she takes one of the backpacks home each Friday because her “family isn’t the richest.” She was glad to be at Feeding America because she likes to help people. She doesn’t have money to give, but she has time, willingness and lots of caring to give. I think that’s significant. Somewhere about box number 480, she started talking about challenges at school, people, anger, past mistakes and all those things adolescents have to sort through. She said sometimes it is easier not to let people know she cares. That made me sad, but I realized how true it is, even for us adults.

I don’t know how important it was that I helped build boxes for Feeding America. But I know it was important for me to meet this young lady and really hear her. I thought about her a lot the rest of the day and, again the next day. She may not have thought anymore about building boxes with “the lady”. But I hope it helped her to tell her story. I know it helped me to hear it. And before she darted out the door to catch the bus, she turned back and gave me a hug.

Davette B. Swiney
President and CEO

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