Our family spent a lot of time with a bunch of potatoes on Wednesday.
It was a new experience for us. We volunteered at Winnipeg Harvest as a family.
Ben and I have worked there a number of times before, when we were leading a youth group. We’d take the whole group out to Winnipeg Harvest for an evening, and sort potatoes or package non-perishables.
As a couple, we’ve often talked about “someday” when we would volunteer at different organizations as a family, but the thought didn’t occur to me that it could start now already, even though Kaylia is only three.
But last year, I came across this blog, which is written by a couple who spent a year traveling around the United States with their kids, volunteering at a wide variety of places. They have two young girls, one who is the same age as Kaylia.
As I read about their adventures, it became clear to me that little kids can be part of a whole lot more than what I had originally thought.
So we went to Winnipeg Harvest this week.
And it was great! Peak of the Market had donated hundreds of pounds of potatoes to Winnipeg Harvest, and our job was to sort through them, filling boxes to bring to the different food banks around Winnipeg. Anika and Kaylia stood on crates, and were legitimately helpful in filling the boxes with good potatoes, and throwing out the rotten ones.
In two weeks, Anika and I are going to help package food and toys for the Christmas Cheer Board, and we would love to visit Winnipeg Harvest again in January.
These things are on my mind this Christmas for a few reasons.
1) Our uncomfortable Sunday School class.
We doing a study called “Justice for the Poor”, and it’s making me squirm. But it’s really good, and making me feel like getting out there and doing something.
Sorting potatoes will not solve world hunger, but if we all do a little bit, it will make a difference.
We have so much. We sit in our comfortable house, eat our plentiful food, and plan for our bountiful Christmas. Sorting some potatoes is the least we can do.
2) My trip to Ottawa this summer.
As my sister was driving me around, giving me a tour of the city, she explained to me how Ottawa has chosen to spread the low-income housing throughout the city. The politicians’ mansions are a few blocks away from the rundown homes of the less-influential citizens of Ottawa.
By spreading out these pockets of poverty, Ottawa has managed to keep the crime rate low. No specific area of the city is overwhelmingly filled with poverty and desperation. It keeps trouble from brewing.
But it means that when you drive to the mall, you’ll have to pass by a bunch of homes which remind you how much you already have, and how blessed you are.
It reminds you that whatever you are going to buy at the mall, you probably don’t NEED, in light of what some people have.
It serves as an excellent visual reminder of how out-of-balance life is.
In the Bible, there’s a verse which talks about how “…the poor you will always have with you…”
Except that we don’t.
They are far away, and easy to forget about. Conveniently out of sight, and therefore out of mind.
I would like to get the poor back into my mind.
I would like the poor to be in my girls’ minds, as well.
I would like us to remember that we have done absolutely nothing to deserve this life we enjoy. We are no better than those who have nothing.
We do not have our extra money to spend on ourselves. We have it to share, and to pass on to those who are in need.
The other night, I came across this passage:
Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time, your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written, ‘He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gather little did not have too little.'” (2 Corinthians 8:13-15)
We are nowhere near reaching equality. My comforts are still at the forefront of my thoughts. I need to learn to share (as was made clear by my scarf experience!)
I have a long way to go, but we’ll start with potatoes this Christmas!