Last weekend the Indy Soft Water crew partnered with the Good Samaritan Network to deliver holiday food baskets in our community. The GSN was working to reach 30,000 individuals between Thanksgiving and December 13th and we were honored to be part of such a great cause.
We arrived at the Noblesville Fairgrounds at 8 a.m. and my initial reaction was true surprise at the large number of families and individuals waiting in line. I had naively thought we would be some of the first people there, but soon found out that many had arrived sometime in the night just to ensure they’d have the opportunity to receive a food box and, hopefully, some presents or clothing for their children.
We found the volunteer entrance and the security guard directing us commented, “It’s pretty crazy in there.” No recipients had yet entered the facility, but the entire pavilion was neatly organized and filled with food, toys, and clothes. We later learned that the all of the bread came from Kroger, many of the dry goods from Meijer, and the toys from different charities and individuals around town who support the Good Samaritan Network.
Including our two boys Hank (9) and Sam (7), there were ten of us and four vehicles from Indy Soft Water. The boys rode with me and our technician Don Crowder, while Ben, my husband, rode in one of our service vans with technician Dave Howell. We are so fortunate to work with such an amazing group! Everyone was there on time and ready to help with great enthusiasm.
I watched closely to see how my boys would respond to the day’s experiences. While they weren’t initially very excited about the 6:30 a.m. wake up call on a Saturday, once they asked me why all of the people were in line, and were given the honest response that they were waiting for food box donations, they seemed to take it all in and lift their attitudes. Hank and Sam ultimately became the front men at each home we stopped at and I think some of the elderly women were more excited to see them than their food package!
We spent about four hours delivering food boxes in Noblesville, Fishers, Carmel, and Sheridan and at some point we all commented on how the need crossed generations and gender—it was immense. I think we were all awakened to the expanse and level of need in Hamilton County. Sometimes we seem to forget that food insecurity exists in almost every community—even areas that are perceived as “poverty-free.” Just last year, 9,501 children in Hamilton County qualified for free or reduced fee lunches.
Beyond that, the Indiana’s State Association of Food Banks reported that 15.7% of all Hoosiers were food insecure in April 2014. This statistic accounts for more than one million individuals, and includes around 345,000 children.
Indy Soft Water will be volunteering again next year—and any other time the GSN needs our assistance. Our local food pantries and food banks can always use more volunteers to serve our neighbors!
For more information about the many faces of hunger in our community, one in-depth resource is Timothy Gondola’s article “Hunger in Central Indiana,” written in conjunction with The Polis Center and the SAVI website.
What’s new this year?