Yesterday we had our company holiday party. Part one started off with a day of volunteering at the Food Bank For New York City warehouse in the Bronx. A bus carted us out there and seventeen of us packed boxes of food in a cold warehouse for close to 5 hours. It was actually quite tiring and straining on the back but in the best possible way.
This is how it worked...a beep beep beep forklift would wheel in 8 refrigerator size bozes full of cans of all kinds of canned food possible every 15 minutes or so. Within these boxes were various Duane Reade bags, Old Navy Bags, Macy's bags full of canned goods. These are the bags that people like you bring to work to donate to that one giant box at the end of the hall at your office or local mall. We then take this giant box and break it down into categories:
Meats - lots of canned clams (ugh), canned salmon, tuna.
Breakfast - cereals hot and cold
Complete meals - Ravioli, canned soups, chili - oh my so many cans of chili
Beans - black beans, pinto, etc.
Baby Food - formula, baby food, etc.
Snacks - cookies, crakers, candy, etc.
Vegtables - corn, peas, etc.
Fruit - canned pears, applesauce, oh so many pineapple rings
Other - really random crap that was from another country or things we never heard of
The first group of people made boxes. The second group of people were handed seven different empty boxes for the above categories and then would take from the giant forklifted fridge boxes and start dividing out the goods. The third group would then pack and seal and label them. I was in the middle group, unloading cans and putting them in the right category. This was a fast paced job. It was no unlike working in a supermarket flying through inventory. The pace was fast and hard. Exhausting. Occasionally your brain would freeze despite having been in a rhythm for a while. Beans...beans...what category are beans...oh yeah. Beans.
In the end these boxes get delivered to various shelters and soup kitchens where volunteer staff unload the goods and make a 'mini-supermarket' where homeless families and the working poor can pick up food from each category to bring to their families. It makes you think...when you put something in that food bank box...try to remember that the food is actually going to human beings that will serve it to their families. Would you want to eat a can of clams? A can of evaporated milk?
At the end of the day, dirty and sweating...as a group of 17 we repacked 6,600 pounds of food, enough to provide 4,400 meals for the hungry in New York City.
Part Two - the bus headed to Central Park in the snow where we had a heated tent and wine and beer and food and hot chocolate and skated around Wolman Rink. I got a call from E,
E: So I got a photo gig for a magazine. I'm traveling to NJ around 3:45am to photograph bear hunters. Bear hunting is now legal in NJ.
K: Um. I don't know how I feel about this one. You know I try to be supportive cool wife but...you in the woods...in the dark...crazy people with guns...hunting bears. Will you be wearing orange?
E: I know...I know. I will wear orange