Raindrops can’t stop it!

Empower Youth now sends out 640 bags weekly to area schools. As this number has climbed we have had to go from a weekly shop to Ollie’s, Aldi’s, and Sam’s Club to monthly shipments and orders by the pallet! Throughout our work we have had the support of Master Provisions and Freestore Foodbank. Unfortunately, we can’t always get exactly what we need from these amazing support teams because of the nature of what we serve– individually wrapped portions of shelf stable food–that a kid will eat!  That last part– that a kid will eat– that’s sometimes the hardest criteria to meet.

However, there are times that we strike oil! We hit the mother-load! We score a home run! We… well you get the picture! Our ship, actually our truck, came in!

On Thursday, February 22, 2018, a day that will forever be etched in our hearts– Freestore Foodbank brought us 42 pallets of shelf stable goodies that not only became a #gamechanger for our weekend food bags but really became a gamechanger for our volunteers.

When we receive items from the Freestore Foodbank we are able to pick them up at the Red Barn Flea Market in Batavia rather than drive all the way downtown Cincy. Believe me, we have tried to have the deliveries made at our ranch but until we get some gravel and knock down a house, that’s a bit of a squeeze for a semi. The logistics: 42 pallets coming on 2 Freestore Foodbank Trucks. It’s raining cats and dogs. We call in the A team and the B team for help. We call our partners at the Red Barn for a back up shelter plan if we can’t fit all the food on our volunteer truck convoy– they said yes before I could finish the ask! We rented two 26foot UHaul Trucks– 1 from Beechmont, 1 from Bethel. Lowe’s sent us a forklift truck! We put the word out for volunteers to be ready to receive and sort the food at the ranch.  We were ready.

At 6am, we started our day, picking up help and a pallet jack. We then descended upon the Red Barn Flea Market with our caravan lining up like we were ready for battle.

I’m still chilled to the bone and overwhelmed with the team assembled.

What happened when our precious cargo of beanie weenies, peanutbutter and jelly packs, and trailmixes showed up was sheer poetry. Like a well rehearsed statue of liberty play, our trucks and volunteer-power took their positions and It. Was. Beautiful.!

1,847 cases of food was loaded in to 2 UHauls in the rain by the most amazing team ever!

Those cases were then delivered to the muddiest ranch you have ever seen. Our soaked loading team was greeted by an excited unloading team! It. Was. Beautiful!

With many of our volunteers holding back tears (or it could have been the rain), we unloaded the boxes off the trucks that were not on wrapped pallets. Young, old, really old, sort of old, feeling old– all kinds of us– were there doing what needed to be done and It. Was. Beautiful.

Our good friends at Lowe’s followed us to the ranch and started taking pallets off with their forklift. The Spirit of Community was at an exhausting high– you felt like you were getting released from the highest hill of a rollercoaster as more and more was accomplished.

It. Was. Beautiful.

I have tried to figure out what the “It” was… The forklift… That line of trucks and trailers waiting to load… That new pair of mud boots a friend brought me so I wouldn’t get trench foot… The happy faces in the packing barn… The little old ladies coming for the adventure from the Nazarene church… Our crazy camp friend Ginger scaling the stacked pallets in the truck throwing down boxes to the team… Watching a 16 year old trying to out-do the two 70+ year old Popeye’s beside him… The neighbors saying we could park in their driveways… The smoking angel truck driver who stood and watched as more and more folks showed up at the Red Barn… Our friend from Red Barn texting and saying remember you don’t have to get it all we have room to store… The Newbies… The Faithful…

The “It” was community. Our call is to our community and Thursday became one more show to us that our community is called to us.

When my husband and I speak to groups, we always say that if it was just about the food, we would quit. We mean that. The shipment was a great example. The shipment became a reminder to our true call of building relationships. When you are in true community you really don’t know who is serving and who is being served.

My community. Is. Beautiful.

–so much love, Lori

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