This is what I did on Saturday.
Let me pull back and show you what our pear-gleaning haul actually looked like. I couldn’t get it all in one shot, so I took multiple pictures. None of the bags have been duplicated in another picture (except you can see the flats from picture #1 in the background of #2):
So the story went like this: at work this week, one of my coworkers mentioned her neighbor had two acres of pear trees and couldn’t take care of the harvest. It was going to rot on the ground unless someone came in. She wanted to get a group together and donate the pears to a homeless shelter or food bank.
There were four of us, when the day came, and we only spent about an hour and a half in the orchard. It grew hot and we’d already picked so much that we left the rest. We took flats & bags to a homeless shelter and most of the crates to a farm:
(We also assisted in luring a pig into a moving van with pear incentives.)
We’re really fortunate in our part of the country to have food growing out the wazoo. (Seriously. There will probably be more posts on this in the future.) But I felt rather sad that there was so much going to waste because we hadn’t connected People With Something To Offer to the People Who Need Something.
There is so much waste on so many levels in our society. Some of it is due to consumerism, and some due to convenience, and some due to the processes of shipping vast quantities of whatever-we-have all over the place.
But food? There are starting to be ways to get available food to people who need it. There’s Falling Fruit, which looks awesome but too new to be comprehensive yet. I’ve heard that people sometimes advertise “Free for the picking” on Craigslist.
But how does that really help people who are truly in need? People who don’t have internet access, or time to scour Craigslist?
Our communities are so fractured nowadays that these important things are not getting across. If we are engaged in a community, it’s usually with people who are on the same economic level as us. How can we reach out to those on the outskirts if we’re too wrapped up in our own worlds?
I know that for me, personally, it’s a huge amount of effort to come from my job and pay attention to ANYTHING going on in the world. I’d just rather not. I’m exhausted. I have a feeling that’s probably the same for just about everyone else.
But my new challenge, for myself and for everyone who wants to join, is this: find one thing a month to do for someone more disadvantaged that you. Donate something. Drop money into a cup. Take dinner over to a struggling family–or invite them to your place. Volunteer at a food bank. Give someone a lift in your car. Check out resources they may not have–like Craigslist–and mention an opportunity they could use. Offer to babysit.
Be creative. A few years ago someone gave me a ton of yarn and I spent my fall making fingerless mitts from a free knitting pattern. It doesn’t always have to cost you money. Knitting really didn’t even cost me time; I was able to do it during work hours (and the stress reduction alone was worth it twice over).
Affirm their dignity to help themselves, but do what you can to make it a little easier. It’s hard enough to keep going for those of us who have been handed a lot of advantage. Imagine what it’s like for those who haven’t.
Who wants to join or to post a challenge of their own?