A giving spirit

This past Saturday, members from Juneau’s three Rotary clubs, joined by the young adult leaders participating in Juneau’s Rotaract Club, converged in front of local grocers to collect food to help fill the shelves at the Southeast Alaska Food Bank.

In a collaborative effort of support for the food drive, local grocers welcomed dozens of Rotarian volunteers to their store fronts, the local school bus company donated school buses to transport donated food items, bus drivers volunteered their time and talents to drive and load the buses, and the local media alerted the public the food collection was taking place, with it all coming together to help make a difference in the lives of those who desperately needed a helping hand.

Many folks are very generous during the holidays by giving to many organizations, including the food bank, but few fully comprehend that fighting hunger is a year-round effort. One of the wonderful things about giving to the food bank is that 100 percent of your food donation goes directly to qualified and deserving individuals and families who have found themselves in desperate circumstances. There is a great need to fight hunger in Southeast Alaska.

I am a member of the Rotary Club of Juneau and I had the opportunity to spend time participating in Saturday’s food collection efforts. I have long admired the commitment and inspiration my fellow Rotarians provide through our fellowship and community service interests but Saturday I came away with a new appreciation.

As I greeted and observed the store’s patrons as they entered, nearly all seemed to appreciate a kind hello. When they exited, a few walked by without making eye contact, leaving me to wonder if some were embarrassed they were not in a position to help that day, but wished they could. Others walked past with smiles on their faces and extended salutations for us to have a great day, and further still were the hundreds who gave freely and at surprising levels.

My fellow Rotarians and I were there of course, but we really only filled the messenger role and were the brawn needed to load cart after cart of food onto the bus. The real notables on Saturday were the anonymous donors who gave, not for recognition or for a deduction on a tax return, but to help in any way they were able. This year, Juneau residents gave more than 15,000 pounds of food, besting last year’s total by more than 1,500 pounds. They gave knowing their contribution would likely be given to someone they had never met and would never know just how appreciative the recipient will be of their generosity.

I am in awe of the outpouring of generosity the residents of Juneau have shown time and time again. Whether you gave a can, a case, or more, please know you made a positive difference in someone else’s life. Thank you for your kindness and your smiles.

• Bryan is a Rotary Club of Juneau member and the publisher of the Juneau Empire.

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