by Pam Thompson, June 2, 2009
Updated August 3, 2009
Probably for the first time in history, a charity seeking donations has said, “Thank you, we now have enough money for this project.” As of this date, this food bank is no longer soliciting donations. This project was to run through September and we already have enough food to cover distribution. thank you again.
Beans. Rice. Lentils. Pasta. Beans. Rice. Lentils. Pasta. Beans. Rice. Lentils. Pasta. …
That’s the mantra that many of us who are working with the local Food Drive dream about at night and talk about during the day.
First, I must say that I never, in my wildest imaginings, believed that when I thought of this did I ever even hope for such outstanding support, organization, love or hard work that has taken place.
There is no need to go in to great detail as to the “why” of the project. The flu paralyzed tourism here. Over 30,000 employees lost work, numerous hotels and restaurants have closed temporarily, either completely or partially. Vendors don’t have sales, whether they are selling baskets or jewelry. You get the picture.
There is no such thing as food stamps, welfare or unemployment here.
“What can we do?” I asked myself and several friends. Well, you can live without a lot of things, but you can’t live without food. How do we choose who will receive it? Because Child Protective Services knows who is in the most need, with desperate situations and already has five programs with people registered which means good accountability, that was chosen. “But what about all of the other worthy organizations?” I was asked many times. “I am one person with a massive email list” I answered. “I urge you to start your own program for whichever charity you feel is worthy!” And so it began.
The word was sent out and spread like wildfire. Donations began arriving by the truckload to the drop off points, the major one being the PVRPV office on the Southside. The staff of PVRPV quickly got in to the rhythm of accounting for every single bag of beans on an excel sheet that would put IBM to shame.
We soon found out that we would need 672 individual packages of food for our first distribution to be held on June 1, 2009. Each package would contain beans, rice, lentils, soup pasta and bouillon cubes. This is enough to feed a family of four for one week. What they do the rest of the month I don’t even want to think about.
The next step was to take the mounds of donations and put them in individual plastic bags and tie up the top. On Saturday, May 30 there were many helping hands and within an hour, 222 bags were made!
Monday June 1, 2009 at 9:30am we met at the PVRPV offices, loading the 222 bags into two pick up trucks and drove to Coapinole to the Child Protective Services Center. Upon our arrival, another big truck was there (from Sam’s) delivering the rest of the donated goods with about 5 smiling kids from the center unloading in a very organized fashion. As I looked out the front door of the center, the line was beginning to form by the folks that were to receive the donations. They were waiting patiently and quietly. I am never one that enjoys being “at the front scene” where people in need can see me. I prefer to work behind the scenes. But this time I was there. The other workers at the Center along with the five of us quickly began making the packages. We settled in to a good system and quickly had a total of 672 individual bags of food piled in the room.
By now the line was snaking around the corner and I couldn’t see the end of it.
I finally stopped looking out the door because every time I did, I got a huge lump in my throat and wanted to cry.
Then, two by two, the receivers checked in at the registration desk, received their vouchers, picked up their bag, turned in their voucher at the other end of the center and left with the food in hand. I wondered if they were going to go home and cook something immediately. I wondered how long it had been since they had eaten a full meal.
We left, tired and sweaty. And pretty subdued. I personally did not realize what an emotionally draining experience it was until later in the day. It was both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time.
These are my neighbors in the country and city I have chosen to call home. In one way or another, we are all intertwined and interdependent on one another.
It was a wake up call and a reality check if I ever had one.
And so, it has begun. Our goal is to give as much as we can, as often as we can, to as many as we can throughout the summer.
If I make a list of the fabulous people to thank, I will probably leave someone out, which would mortify me. You are the people who have donated, assisted in the packaging, delivered items, sent emails, promoted the program, done the accounting. You are the person who, while doing your weekly shopping at Rizo’s has thrown a couple of extra bags of beans into your grocery cart. You know who you are. This could not have been done without all of the loving hearts involved in one way or another. But, I must remind you, we have only started. We need to keep up the momentum through the next few months, which even under normal circumstances are economically challenging for many. We look forward to your contributions and remember…
Beans. Rice. Lentils. Pasta.
For further information please contact Pamela Thompson/HealthCare Resources Puerto Vallarta pamela (at) healthcareresourcespv.com