Do One Small Thing


Statistics can paralyze.

  • Of the world’s 6.8 billion people, 925 million don’t have enough to eat. That’s
    more than the population of the U.S., Canada and the European Union all put
  • Global food prices are rising sharply—because of population increase, rising oil
    prices and climate change.
  • The world’s poorest spend 80% of their income on food.
  •  Meanwhile, I note in the paper this week that U.S. spending on international aid has
    plummeted by $6 billion since 2010.

Makes you want to close your eyes, stop your ears. Don’t show me a picture of another
Somali child with a distended belly.

Last Saturday I joined with 1500 volunteers from my town to pack 300,000 meals through an organization called “Feed My Starving Children.” Full disclosure: I went out of obligation. Hundreds of my parishioners were going, and I was invited to come—as one of the ministers in town—to welcome people to the event and offer an opening prayer.

They weren’t expecting me to stay and pack meals for two hours, and I half considered leaving after my nice little innocuous prayer. I had a hundred things to do that Saturday morning. They had 1500 people; they didn’t need 1501. What good would it do, really? But I decided to stay.

In a Middle School cafeteria I joined a team of ten people who (after a blitzkrieg course in safe and effective food packing) stuffed rice, soy, and dehydrated veggies into small plastic pouches. We formed an assembly line that began like a ’78 Pinto with two working cylinders and three tires and shortly revved into a smoking Maserati. My job was to lay out exactly 36 of these pouches as they came off the line and pack them into one case. Our team developed chants and cheers to celebrate every case of 36, corny ditties like “Table 9 is so fine!” I high-fived with Tim, the Jr. High-aged boy who was nothing short of heroic at the weighing and sealing station. Music was pulsing. After every case we scored, I did my version of an NFL end  zone dance. Some of my parishioners were laughing at me, others looked simply frightened.

At the end of our shift, ten assembly lines had packed nearly 50,000 meals. I could hardly believe it. Children in Haiti and Ethiopia and China and Pakistan—thousands of them—would eat a great meal (they let us taste the meal we were packing—it was actually not bad!) because ten people at Table 9 gave two hours on a Saturday morning.

Mother Teresa said it so well. “We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” And, I am sure she meant to add, with sophomoric chants, high fives and really sketchy end zone dances.


5 Responses to Do One Small Thing
  1. Ginny Lovas
    October 8, 2011 | 7:21 pm

    My question has always been – do the folks who need the food get the food? It seems that too often, we send and the poor and hungry do not receive bacause the powerful in the Country where the food is being send the food steal it before it can get to those who need it so badly.

    We should not quit doing this, but I wonder if we really are making a difference. We are making a difference when we donate to Person To Person, the Connecticut Food Bank or to GAIA – but. overall, I really wonder.


    • David
      October 12, 2011 | 7:13 am

      Yes, I know those feelings. But if we let those feelings dictate how we live our lives, it’s all over for love! So . . . do one small thing, and do not worry about how “effective” it is. God manages all of that.

      • Ginny Lovas
        October 13, 2011 | 5:00 pm

        Yeah, I do – but I still wonder! Ginny

  2. Maggy@ThreeManyCooks
    October 10, 2011 | 11:16 am

    Such a great story, Dad. 1500 or 1501. Seems like nothing, but it’s actually everything. Thanks for reminding us to do small but great things.

  3. pam anderson
    October 12, 2011 | 9:24 pm

    Funny that I had half talked myself into believing what I did for the poor in other places didn’t really much matter. Thanks for reminding me that, in fact, it does.

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