When I write thank you notes to our donors, I often ask, "What inspires you to give to POM?" And, I admit, I get really excited when I get an answer back! It is energizing to be able to share my passion with others! Sometimes the answers make me a little teary-eyed. Sometimes, they make me laugh with joy. They always make me smile!
I’d like to share a particularly inspirational story I received in answer to that question.
For Amy and Chris, much of it comes down to “Hope”
“I grew up in a family where all my basic needs were always met. My parents got me braces when I needed them and we even took some pretty cool family vacations. Sure, we didn’t have some of the fancy things some of my friends had, but all of our needs were met. I am so grateful for my parents who worked hard and always put their kids first.
Chris was not as lucky I was. Chris grew up in a home that had many problems. A lot of these problems kept his family in the cycle of poverty. Through periods of his childhood Chris experienced hunger and food insecurity. There were times when his family was able to receive food from their local food bank. When he was a teenager, he and his brother would sometimes run away from home to escape abuse that was happening in their home. Sometimes he could couch surf with friends, but a few times he ended up sleeping in his car. When Chris reflects on his childhood, the thing that is the most striking for him is the hopelessness his parents had. They had no hope of ever getting better, that things would ever improve. And sadly, things never did improve for them. Chris’s parents both passed several years ago never having gotten themselves fully on their feet.
Though Chris and I come from very different backgrounds we are united in our view of money and giving. We are both blessed with incomes that exceed our basic needs. We believe that we do not own our money. We are merely the managers of it for God. We believe that God wants us to give, save, and spend that money in appropriate amounts. As good stewards of that money, we believe we are called to give that money to organizations that use their money efficiency and responsibility to help people.
Given Chris’s history, food banks are particularly close to our hearts. POM has an excellent reputation in the community and we love the idea that we can help people right here where we live. We also love to give to organizations that share our Christian faith and show Jesus’s love through their works.
I know for Chris in particular, organizations that give people hope are the most important.”
Amy and Chris are a young couple set to be married in September! They not only donate financially, but they love to shop together for the food bank. They told me how they probably spend more time choosing food for the food bank than they do for their own cupboards! Having been raised on food-bank-food, he remembers how much it meant to have choices at the food bank. When every week the choices are basically SpaghettiOs and Creamed Corn, a kid’s eyes will light up at the sight of a box of Life Cereal! So, when they shop they enjoy the process of discussing all the options and trying to find the things that will light up a child’s eyes!
Chris also knows what it’s like to try and find meals you can eat without the means to cook, or even open the containers! So, they try to look for cans with pop-top lids, or things like snack-pack chicken/tuna and crackers, which contain protein but don’t have to be cooked.
As we helped carry in their donated boxes of food last week, couldn’t help but think how the faces of our own food-bank children will light up this Wednesday!
We are grateful to Chris and Amy for sharing their gifts with POM. But, as I printed their emailed story and put it in my precious stack of stories from other angels in the community, it is the gift of their caring hearts that stays in my mind. They are right about hope. Hope is a powerful thing. It gives us momentum, energy and inspiration to move forward. We can live for weeks without food, 3 or 4 days without water, but we cannot truly live a single moment without hope!
Director of Community Engagement