I have had an amazing life. A remarkably full life. It’s been just as full of happy as it has sad, and I am grateful for every minute of it.
Spring, 1999- I think. I had taken my four kiddos, ages 6, 4 1/2, 2 1/2, and 6 mos, to pick strawberries. We were living in Washington at the time, and I had been learning how to make jam. The summer before I was so excited about the abundance of blackberries- they grew everywhere- on the side of the road, by the park, in common areas around base. And they were huge. And free. But the strawberries were not free, so they were especially precious and couldn’t be wasted. I packed up the four kids and went to the grocery store to buy what we needed. Sugar. Pectin. Citric acid. I got to the counter and didn’t have quite enough money, so I handed the citric acid back to the cashier, turned to the kids and said “Our jam is going to taste great, it’ll just look kinda dark.” The older ones grabbed the grocery sacks, and I grabbed the younger ones. Before we got to the car, a man hurriedly headed in our direction with a small bag hanging from his extended arm. He had bought the citric acid for us. Did we really need it? It would have been edible without it, for sure, but the real need that day was just a little bit of kindness. I don’t know his name or remember his face, but I will never forget him.
Summer, 1999- pretty sure it was the same year. The older two kids had been in Kindergarten and a financial need based preschool program, and school was now out. We had enough food in the house because I had learned to use the resources we had pretty tightly. I bought cheap, in bulk, and as close to raw as possible, and kept the pantry as full as I could. I didn’t need to take advantage of the free summer lunch program offered down the street from our house, but reality was it made my life a little easier. The sack lunches weren’t always that great, but if we got there early, there was plenty to choose from, and the kids could play on the playground and I visited with my neighbors. We didn’t go every day, but we went a lot of days, and I was grateful for it.
Fall, 1999- we needed a lot of help that year. It was time to get the kids ready for school. It was all excitement for first grade and Kindergarten, until I started getting supply lists. Then it didn’t quite feel like excitement. The preschool that we had been enrolled in was amazing for making sure we as parents had access to a plethora of resources, and gratefully we learned of a program for helping families get ready for a new school year. We stood in line for quite a long time. I remember kids in front of us playing with Pokemon cards while we waited. And I remember it was miserably hot. Once inside the gym, the kids were all given free haircuts, a bookbag with school supplies, and each child was allowed one garbage bag full of used clothing. Even the two littles that weren’t in school yet. Relief.
So. This is a quilting blog. What on earth does my trip down memory lane have to do with anything?
Well, memories have a purpose. They shape us. They remind us to be grateful. They remind us to be someone with a small bag of kindness hanging from the end of our extended arms. They remind us that gathering is half of giving. They remind us that it can be something really simple that relieves a mother’s anxiety. So, with gratitude, let’s have another semi-annual food drive.
Kids are out of school, which means many of them are not getting the one or two meals a day that they qualify for during the school year. Families that are working to make ends meet get hit hard at this time of year. Almost harder than during the holidays, when most people think of contributing to their local charitable organizations.
With that in mind, let’s have a WIP Week at the studio. From June 21-25, 9 am to 4 pm, bring your Works In Progress to The Green Apricot studio. The fee? Two pounds of nonperishable food per hour, or in other words, twelve pounds of food for each day you come to sew, knit, crochet, paint, talk, eat, or whatever. No, I am not going to weigh your food. You will have to read labels or weigh it yourself, and it is on an honor system. Space is limited, so please register to reserve your seat. We are notorious for ordering a little something for lunch, so be prepared for that, or bring a lunch from home. There is a small fridge in the studio, as well as a microwave. Food donations will go to United Food Force– a food pantry in McDonough, GA serving Henry and surrounding counties.
I hope you can come and hang out where the makers meet, but if you can’t, I still hope you can contribute to your local food bank. It will make a difference.