Today is Martin Luther King Day, which has become almost synonymous with volunteering and community service.  I hope everyone has the opportunity to serve others in some way today! Since I started college, volunteering has been an important part of my life.  I often start volunteering somewhere new for a somewhat selfish reason, usually to gain experience for my resume, but it always blooms into a passion for the organization.  I worked in a volunteer office at a major military installation and had the opportunity to help passionate people do what they do best – help others.  This is where I was introduced to the idea of children participating in volunteer activities.  When I was growing up I was never exposed to volunteering, either at school or at home, and discovering that families often volunteer together was an eye-opener for me.  What a great way to teach kids the power of participating in the community, how to make a difference in someone’s life, and how to work together with others.

Palmetto Place functions as a surrogate family for our kids, so I thought it made sense to take them out to volunteer.  While they were out of school for the holidays we went to Harvest Hope Food Bank to help out.  On the way to Harvest Hope we talked about volunteering.  Some of the kids had volunteered before, but it was a new experience for some.   They said they did things like help clean up litter or help wash cars for school fundraisers.  I asked the kids why they thought it was important to volunteer.  They said that it was good to help others, so they would be blessed, and that it was a nice thing to do since people helped them.

Once we arrived the kids were fascinated with the huge warehouse and seeing so much food in one place.  Some of them mentioned that their moms had been to the food bank before to get food for their families.  The staff member explained that things like large, unexpected bills often come up and Harvest Hope is there to help people when they need it.

We got set up and had about 10 packing stations.  One of our kids put the box on an assembly line, and then pushed it over for the next person to add in an item.  This continued at each station until our very strongest kid put the full, taped box on a pallet.  It sounds easy, but believe me, it was hard work!  Sometimes the assembly line got backed up and we had to stop and help someone catch up.  One of our teens, D., was super fast and helped everyone else keep up.  She was a true team player!  Working together with another family, we packed more than 140 boxes of food for people in need!   We made a great team and everyone enjoyed working together to help others.

There are so many people who volunteer their time at Palmetto Place – serving on the board, doing art projects, helping with yard work, organizing supplies, reading to the kids and doing so much more.  We are very appreciative of all the volunteers who help us – Palmetto Place could not function without you!