Do you ever look at all the stuff emptying your wallet and filling up your time, and all the fun experiences now filed away in a photo album, and all the chores on your to-do list that will just need to be redone before you know it, and ask yourself, "How is my life any better because of any of this? Maybe you and I don't need more stuff, or more fun, or more responsibilities. May be you and I need something that has absolutely nothing to do with me, me, and more me.
This year my family and I decided to fill our spirits, and spend our time, focusing on helping others, instead of ourselves. We traveled around the country in search of places and people in need of 4 sets of of willing hands. It was harder than you think. Often folks aged 55 and up are easily accommodated and sought out to volunteer, but three preteen youngsters? Not so much.
Thanks to our Escapee’s “Birds of a Feather” group, the “Christian Fellowship RV’ers,” we were lucky enough to discover Gleanings for the Hungry. Fortunately, we were able to get a spot at the last minute, as the non-profit, completely volunteer-staffed, “base” is a popular destination for those looking to give back.
Gleanings for the Hungry is a Christian, non-profit organization, located near Fresno, CA. It operates as a mercy ministry arm of Youth With A Mission. Their mission is to help feed the hungry of the world both spiritually and physically. In the summer, volunteers sun-dry peaches and nectarines; in the winter teams produce a dried soup mix from bulk dehydrated vegetables, providing food to people in approximately 100 countries around the world.
We exchanged a few hours a day of our time packing soup mixture; designing and sewing quilts; cooking; cleaning up; or even repairing fruit-drying trays; for gorgeous views, delicious meals and snacks, comfortable accommodations (or in my case, full hook-ups for my RV,) as well as plenty of time for fun, spiritual rejuvenation, and even some field trips to taste olive oil or pick local grapes. It was really what can only be called an amazing experience.
What I loved most about our time at Gleanings for the Hungry, was being made to feel completely welcome and at home. The families that staff Gleanings just exude what you might call “good vibrations,” and it’s pretty catchy. We found that no matter our ages or abilities, each person felt useful, loved, and knew we'd made a real, practical difference in someone's, many one's in fact, lives.
So, this year, instead of giving a check (or in addition to, after all, the staff does not get paid for their dedicated service) give a week, a month, or longer, of yourself, knowing that although you are feeding a hungry child far away, you’ll still come away feeling like you’re the one who’s been changed for the better. It’s a good thing.