This year Its Spooky to be Hungry, a grassroots, all-volunteer, neighborhood-based food drive, will take place Saturday, Oct. 27, with nearly 80 neighborhoods in Columbia County, Richmond County and North Augusta participating.
We have grown and expanded tremendously from our beginnings seven years ago in only three neighborhoods in Columbia County. Last year, through just one morning of neighborhood-based food collection, more than 600 volunteers worked together to collect an amazing total of more than 25,000 pounds of food and more than $13,000. This total allowed Golden Harvest Food Bank to provide more than 120,000 meals to the needy.
Although the central core of Spooky volunteers represents a religiously and politically diverse group, we have been united in our beliefs in and hopes for the betterment of our community and, in at least a small way, the betterment of our world. Experiencing Spookys growth and broadening community support has been a source of steady encouragement. My personal beliefs have been reinforced by the kindness and altruism demonstrated by the Spooky volunteers and the overwhelming generosity of our many donor households.
I can be described as a self-trained optimist, the epitome of a community Pollyanna, trying hard to find the opportunity to make lemonade out of the lemons that life and circumstances can deal us. All that came crashing down around me Sept. 11.
Like so many of us, I felt shaken to the core by the terror attacks. As a native New Yorker, both my childhood home and my adult world-view were attacked. How could I emotionally incorporate my personal beliefs with the realities of terrorism? In the face of such incomprehensible atrocity, could I hang on to my ideals and my commitment to Its Spooky to be Hungry, such a small effort to make a difference?
President Bush and others advised us to continue in our daily lives. Despite my shock and fears, going on with a daily routine was not all that difficult. What was sorely challenging was trying to sort through a less-visible internal devastation. Working to regain my emotional bearings, I realized by allowing my heart to be compromised by terrorism, I was surrendering the things I value most to those I respect least.
I concluded that more than ever, I must hang on to my heartfelt ideals. The tragedy and horror of Sept. 11 has underscored my commitment to working toward my ideals, and has reinforced my commitment to Its Spooky to be Hungry, one small grass-roots effort to cultivate that which is good and positive in our hearts and lives.
When Spooky volunteers collect food in their own neighborhoods, they share the joy of working together for the common good. They make positive connections with their neighbors. These are powerful messages of hope, community and goodwill.
After Spooky volunteers have finished collecting food in their neighborhoods, it is brought to Golden Harvest. And for those of us who gather there a few days later at our Celebration Weigh-In, we see a literal mountain of food that together we have collected. When I look at our results, I experience an often-elusive truth: Although I alone am not destined to change the world, in community with others, I can make an impact.
The volunteers of Its Spooky to be Hungry welcome you to become more invol-ved with us, through your neighborhoods, through work and through community groups. If your neighborhood is one of the many participating, please give generously. If your neighborhood is not yet included, call us to find out how you can join in next year. There is room for all of us, together, to make a difference.
For more information on how to become involved in Its Spooky to be Hungry, please call 863-5863.
(Evelyn Browne, an Evans resident, is chair of Its Spooky to Be Hungry.)
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