We made it to the end of the week. I cannot tell you how amazing this feels. It has been a long haul. Each day has lasted about four days at least and I was beginning to think that Friday would never roll around, but it has, and the children have finished school and we are in the throes of packing. Granny and Grandad will come tomorrow to look after Derek and make sure the local bakery and the deli are well supported while we are away. They’re good like that. I have fed everyone with random pho, which I made from leftovers and the ransacking of the spice drawers. I have sent the tortoise to chokey for the week, and booked a large delivery of Christmas groceries for when we get back. We are almost ready to run away to the hills.
My reverse advent box project for our local food bank finished yesterday. I say ‘my’. It was not ‘my’ it was ‘our’. It was ‘our’ all the way along. I simply created a space online where people could get involved if they wanted, and they did. They absolutely did in spades. I am so grateful to have such wonderful friends, neighbours and loved ones. By the time I put the last bits in the car to deliver yesterday, we had filled a transit van and a car with donations. That was just from my house. Other people took stuff directly from their own houses, or had people come and collect car loads, and it wasn’t just here in Leicester either. We had people all over the country doing their bit. It was wonderful. If you were inspired to give a little, or a lot, I can only thank you.
I posted a message on our Facebook Page yesterday after I’d done the delivery. I don’t have time for fancy words or re-shaping it for the blog, but I wanted to share it with you, as a gift and a reminder that what you do does make a difference despite what cynical individuals might tell you.
I will be keeping the page open into the new year if people still want ideas or to connect and donate. January is a hard month for many, and we’ve already been told by the volunteers at the food bank that the people using it this Christmas are triple the number that used it last Christmas. Demand is rising and times are getting harder. If you can help a food bank near you, you really will be saving someone from going hungry.
I won’t be blogging while I’m away. I intend to cuddle my kids, snog my husband and use the rest of my time to get eye strain from reading and jaw ache from eating buns. I wish you all the best that Christmas has to offer.
Here’s what I posted yesterday.
Today I went to drop your parcels off, as you know. While I was there, ferrying things back and forth, a lady was dropped off at the door.
She was an elderly white lady, being dropped off by a middle aged Indian gentleman. He was very solicitous of her and wouldn’t leave her until he knew she was in safe hands with someone from the food bank. I thought he was a friend. He wasn’t. He was just someone who was helping out this lady because he cared.
She was very confused and extremely apologetic. She had a walking frame. She was frail and so thin. She was seventy years old, and as I kept going back and forth I heard her apologise so many times for having to ask for help. She felt so much shame for the situation she was in. She thought she was a burden.
She kept trying to give the lady who was looking after her, her birth certificate, to prove she was who she said she was and so that it was evidence. The lady, a wonderful soul called Sheila, was brilliant with her, patient and kind and absolutely reassuring. She eventually managed to persuade the lady that it was alright for her to have help, and food, and that she didn’t need her birth certificate, and she found someone to take her and get what she needed.
As I said goodbye to Sheila, she said to tell you all that the food bank doesn’t turn away anyone. That they look after people of all ages, colours, races and faiths, and that they will never let anyone go hungry. She told me that she had received so much by being able to help, and that she basically had a different understanding of people from other faiths and cultures because she was able to see that we are all human beings in need at the end of the day, and we do what we can to help each other.
I wanted to tell you the story because I felt so much in those moments. It broke my heart that that elderly lady was there and she was so confused and ashamed. It lifted my heart that those two people who she didn’t know, did everything they could to help her. It restored my faith that Sheila told me and showed me what I already knew intellectually and now know with every fibre of my being. That what unites us is stronger than what divides us, and that by coming together and proving that every day, in even the smallest of ways, we make real, lasting change that resonates into the future.
I wanted to tell you because every single thing you donated helped and is helping and will continue to help and good work is being done, and will be done. xx