This morning started bright and early for Zack and me. I had fallen asleep last night on the couch in the family room and I was awake before the sun came up. Lying there in the dark I ruminated on many different thoughts. Zack woke up and came down to snuggle with me around 7:00AM. We had to be up and about by 7:30AM as we needed to be in Littleton for some charity work at 9:00AM.
Today we were volunteering for a charity called Denver Kids Against Hunger. It is a charity that is run by the Kiwanis club. They work to raise money throughout the year to buy mass quantities of food that are then assembled into self-contained meals and then shipped to places like Haiti and war ravaged countries of Africa. Today was one of their several times a year efforts to take the food they had purchased and build meals.
The meals are very basic. They consist of a chicken-flavor powder (at least that is what it tasted like to me when i got some on my hands) with vitamins in it, dried vegetables, soy protein and rice. The whole effort consists of working to combine all these things in the right proportions and package them in a plastic bag. Today the work was to build 100,000 meals that are to be shipped to Haiti next week. I had learned of this opportunity through a post I saw on Facebook. They were looking for 150 people in two different shifts to help out in this effort.
Zack and I arrived about 5 minutes before the start to find things getting rolling. We were assigned to a team of 3 other people - Tom, Missy and Joanne. (Tom, Missy and Joanne are all from Greeley. Tom and Missy are high school students who are involved in a "junior Kiwanis" club. Joanne I would guess is retired and is the wife of one of the guys from the Kiwanis who was leading today's effort.)
Our goal was to assemble as many of these meal bags as we could. We were assigned a table that had 4 large "bins" (actually plastic roughnecks). One bin was full of the powder, one the dried vegetable, one the soy protein and one rice. In the center of the table was a funnel like device into which you put everything. While the team members put the material into the funnel, one person held the bag to be filled at the bottom of the funnel and caught everything. Each meal consisted of 1 tablespoon of the powder, 1/3 of a cup of the vegetables and 1 cup each of the soy and rice.
(Our team's work station)
Once everything was into the bag, it was put in a tray at the end of the table. When the tray was filled a runner would come by and pick it up and give us another tray. The trays were then taken to a central station where each bag was weighed to make sure it was in the proper weight range, sealed and then loaded into boxes. When each box was complete it was loaded onto a pallet for shipping.
(Zack and I all geared out in our hair nets.)
(Zack with 2 of the other team members - Missy and Tom)
My understanding of how the situation works when it arrives at the destination is that the bags are handed out at the refugee camps. Each bag can then be dumped into a pot with water and boiled and it becomes a total and complete meal that meets the nutritional needs of the refugees.
The five of us developed a really good system for working and getting the meal bags built quickly. Based upon the number of trays we filled I estimate we completed between 2,000 and 3,000 meals. Our shift was originally supposed to complete 50,000 meals but by the end of the 3 hour shift we had built over 60,000 meals.
The time went very quickly and we developed a very good working rhythm. We didn't even talk that much as we were working so fast. Zack did a good job keeping up. He did take a couple of breaks but for the most part he was as dedicated to the effort as the rest of the team. He didn't even complain about getting tired. He did a great job and I am very proud of him.
In the end run we gave about 3 hours of our day. I really don't think we did that much, but to be honest it was fun to get out and do something like this. I have never done anything like this before but I must say I am eagerly anticipating doing it again.
That was the big event for the day for us. The rest of our day was spent working around the house. I continue to make progress on the garage. Today I managed to sell a bunch of stuff on Craigslist. Hopefully the sales will go through and the people who agreed to buy the stuff will actually show up tomorrow.
Zack spent a bunch of time riding his bike throughout the neighborhood today. Though he is once again showing some signs of anxiety he has also really made some advancements of recent. Riding his bike around is just one example of it.
Given the weather was pretty decent this evening I decided to grill out for dinner. This might be one of the last weekends in which I don't have to freeze to grill a dinner. I will normally grill all year round but it is much better to grill when the weather is warm and not freezing!
I hope everyone is having a great weekend so far. Hopefully too you aren't scared by the ghouls and goblins cause tomorrow is Halloween!
Thanks and peace to all! ~J.