Do small things with great love... These six words from Mother Teresa of Calcutta resonate in my head on a daily basis. They inspire me to look around and see what small thing I might be able to do. I don't always feel like I have a lot to give, but when I break it down into “small things”, it becomes more doable for me. But what continues to amaze me every day, is how those little things I do can have such a big impact on those around me.
I recently had the opportunity to volunteer at the Hilliard Food Pantry. While I have donated food for many years and even helped stock the shelves in the back room a couple times, this was my first time working on the front side of the Hilliard Pantry, interacting with the clients who come in.
I helped them pick out canned tomatoes, beans, veggies, fruit, pasta, meat, peanut butter to help fill their pantries at home during their current stage of hardship, doing a little small talk as we made our way through the food pantry with our grocery basket.
Rounding the corner of the shelves stocked with non-perishable items, there is a shelf of “personal items”, the ones that most of us throw in our grocery carts each week without a second thought – toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, bar soap, hand soap, shampoo and conditioner, tampons, pads, diapers, wipes. However, for those on food stamps or a limited income, these are items they many times have to go without.
Helping one client, we scanned the shelves of those personal items. She was good on toilet paper she said. Her toothbrush and toothpaste would probably last her for the month. Someone had just given her some shampoo. Then her eyes hit the bottom shelf with a couple of bottles of scented pump hand soap. Her eyes lit up when she saw it. “Can I take this?” she asked. “Of course,” I answered, “Any two items off these shelves.”
She was like a little girl on Christmas morning as she shared “now I can wash my hands in the kitchen and they’ll smell so good!” At that moment in time, her eyes lit up with hope.
After my volunteer shift was over, that “personal item” shelf was quite empty. In fact, I had to tell one client who came in that we did not have any diapers. I had to tell another one we did not have any pads. “Maybe next month. . . “ I had to tell them. The Hilliard Food Pantry runs on donations. Maybe someone or some group would make a donation soon.
That woman’s words of joy at such a small item, that scented pump soap, mixed with the words from Mother Teresa in my head for the next couple of days. Then came the images of disappointment and despair on the faces of the other two clients who were not able to add to their basket much needed items.
So it turns out that “someone” or “some group” is me. And it is you. I shared this story with the group at my church, and then Rita asked me if I would share it with you.