This morning I went down to the Washington Post’s office to volunteer with Greater DC CARES to prepare food for Martha’s Table, an organization that helps at-risk children, youth, families and individuals in the community improve their lives by providing educational programs, food, clothing, and enrichment opportunities. I was part of a team of youth and adults from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. I used to work for the Alliance, a terrific organization started by the American Heart Association and former President Clinton’s Foundation.
We spent the morning working as a team to do several service projects. Our group prepared over 2,000 sandwiches to be handed out by McKenna’s Wagon. The youth that were part of our team were part of the Alliance’s Youth Advisory Board, 25 amazing kids from across the country who inspire their peers to make healthy behavior changes and to become leaders and advocates for healthy eating and physical activity. They quickly figured out good systems that allowed them to work more productively as a team. Despite some minor help from us adults trying minimize the amount of jelly on the carpet, they pretty much handled it all. What an amazing group of young people. Thanks to my friend Kim for inviting me to be a part of this special day.
In addition to the food we prepared, the other teams participating produced 600 burn kits, 1,000 first aid kits for search and rescue teams, 500 basic toiletry kits for the homeless, and hundreds of cards and letters to be sent to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Great work by everyone!
While I was volunteering I heard about a wonderful woman named Gwen who drove the bus for the Alliance’s group. As we left the building, I found Gwen and asked her if she would accept my $10! Her face lit up and she gladly accepted. The 54-year-old has a face that glows with energy. I don’t think I saw her not smiling the whole time. Born near the RFK stadium, she now lives in Largo, MD with her mother. She has a 32-year-old son who works for Metro and four grandchildren.
My friend Daniel told me that yesterday he had asked Gwen if she knew where they could get some food. She didn’t hesitate and opened her bag and offered a pear that she had brought for herself. What a nice person to offer up her own food to someone else.
So I asked Gwen what she was going to do with the $10. “I am going to put gas in my car!” she quickly replied.
Almost everyone had loaded up on the bus at this point and I didn’t want to hold the group up, so I quickly said goodbye and headed back home to write about the experience. I am planning to go to the Embassy of Haiti at 5pm tonight for a candlelight vigil. If you are in the DC area and would like to attend, go to 2311 Massachusetts. Ave., N.W. or check out the Greater Washington Haiti Relief Committee’s page on Facebook.