Our CEO wants us to give back to the community since the community has helped support our company for the past 20 years. It's nice to see such a proclamation coming from the CEO of a fairly large company. It's even better when lower levels of mgmt follow through by making sure we can set aside time to do the volunteering. So last Friday I, along with a few others, went to the San Jose Family Shelter.
It's a place where families who have recently lost their homes can stay for 30 days and get help getting back on their feet. The families are assisted with employment, housing, and many other things to help make sure they don't have to go from shelter to shelter. No doubt, a lot of good work goes on there.
We were there to help organize and clean up things with the folks who run the place. My small group was given charge of the food store where tons of canned food, coffee, and other things had been sitting dis-organized. First off, we had to throw away the bad stuff. More interestingly, we threw away the stuff that the shelter just had too much of. Stuff like cranberry jelly, pumkin pie filling, and sweet potatoes. While these canned items could last for years, the head chef just wanted us to throw the stuff away since they would be getting more than enough of it again come November.
Sad, but true...they just had to throw away useable stuff since there was simply no room for it. On the other hand, we kept and re-organized stuff which would come in much better use. Food which could be distributed to families as they leave the shelter was put into another shed. This food would help families start out life again in their new places of residence.
Most interesting of all was the coffee. There were literally 7 garbage bags full of single-pot bags of coffee. Most of it from Starbucks. The whole time while going through these bags we were wondering what the hell the shelter would do with so much coffee. It turns out that coffee is like currency amongst shelters and can be used to trade for other food items. So this shelter had arranged for a local Starbucks owner to donate a box or two of these small bags of coffee for them to use towards other things.
The other thing which shelters need? Meat. Ground meat, Deli meat, you name it, it's what they need most of. While the canned food is great, apparently there isn't enough meat to be used for dinner every night.
So lesson learned: Come Thanksgiving when we all start thinking about donating something to a local shelter, check with them to see if they can use deli meats or anything like that. Coffee also comes in very handy for them. Don't just go out and buy the cheapest cans of food you can find at Costco or Safeway.