27 September, 2004

Too many hands, too little food

I've been meaning to write for days, but I haven't had the chance. First it was research-related stuff; then it was relaxation from research-related stuff. A pile of clothes sits on my unmade bed; I washed and dried them this morning, but I haven't had the chance to hang them yet. They're already wrinkled from having sat on the bed all day, so I decided not to bother with them now.

This past Saturday was the fourth Saturday of the month. Thus, it was back to CPO for me (see my previous CPO post for background). Don, the usual head honcho, wasn't able to come, and delegated his keys and associated responsibilities to Lynn. We also had a fair number of volunteers from a church trip — my church, in fact! I had read something about it in the bulletin, but I hadn't thought much of it because I volunteer at CPO anyway. I only knew one of them, though: a girl in the religious education that I taught last year.

I arrived early, but the door was still locked, and Lynn was pretty busy trying to find work for the people who were already inside, while I and a steady flow of additional volunteers congregated outside.

Eventually the doors opened for us, and when I saw the number of 10-13 year-olds preset, I was flabbergasted. Lynn also informed me that we had very little food, so we had to distribute food sparingly.

We found ways to keep the children busy and productive. (The two do not necessarily go hand-in-hand.) I acted my usual anti-social self and ignored the extra volunteers while assembling carts of food and taking them out to people...

...until the last hour or so. At that point, I saw that two of the boys were wandering about with nothing to do. This is surely a recipe for disaster, I thought. So I arrested their wanderings and impressed them into service, showing them how to do my job, a little bit at a time.

Even so, we were still doing some standing around for the first 10-15 minutes. Fortunately, the rate of clients coming in more than doubled. Before long, both boys were helping me assemble and deliver alternate carts of food with someone older. Even with their help, Kahty and I were kept busy; seventeen families arrived in that last hour. It may not sound like much, but if we want to serve them all before the end of the hour, we have to interview them, assemble their food, and cart it out to their car, all in the space of about seven minutes per client (we have two interviewers, and with the boys there I could assemble two carts at a time).

A Food Shuttle delivery around 11 had given us more than enough bread, desserts, and deli to survive, as well as some not-so-fresh produce that we desperately needed. Still, the clients who were there eagerly took some bananas, which didn't look that bad, although they obviously wouldn't be sellable at the grocery store.

We ran out of frozen meat around 12.30. From then on, we handed out cans of beef stew instead. We nearly ran out of desserts as well.

When all was said and done, I got home around 2pm. I dawdled a little while, then headed to a local church for confession. (It's been a couple of months, and I like to go regularly.) I arrived around 4.10pm, which should have been more than enough time, even with four people ahead of me. But the priest spent twenty or thirty minutes with the penitent he was serving when I arrived, so it wasn't until 5pm that he was hearing mine. He was intelligent and insightful; a little theatrical though. He would describe the selfish ways our hearts converse with God, and grimace inflect his voice with mannerisms that described it perfectly.

Since I was already there, and the Sunday "mass of anticipation" was at 5.30pm, I stayed, and did some shopping (food) when I arrived. I didn't arrive home until well after 7.

Sunday was my appointment for the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, the subject of my next post.

While I was writing this, we received our first tornado warning. It shouldn't be a problem to us, but we're bound to get quite a few over the next few hours, thanks to hurricane Jeanne. Heh! and I'm scheduled for adoration tonight.

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