Service at the Food Pantry: Charlottesville, VA
Members of the Sri Sathya Sai Center of Charlottesville, VA, 9 adults and 7 Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) children, have volunteered at Feeding Greene Food Pantry in Stanardsville, VA since June 2021. For over 25 years, the nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization has provided food assistance to families in need in a small, rural community. Currently, it serves over 63,000 pounds of food each month to more than 800 families or about 2,400 individuals.
With the onset of the pandemic, the pantry has received more requests for food, and the number of individuals being served has increased by two-fold, with the greatest increase in children, aged 0-17, followed by the elderly, aged 60 and over.
With the increase in demand, has come the need for volunteers; Sai Center members have stepped forward eagerly to fill the need. The service coordinator elaborated, “We serve the first Saturday of every month. Initially, we sorted the food donations and organized them on shelves so they can be easily distributed. Later, Sai volunteers were given the opportunity to clean the pantry. We mopped floors and cleaned furniture and stands, often sharing a laugh and humming bhajans together in a spirit of camaraderie. Mindful that ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’, we strive to make the pantry a clean and welcoming place for everyone.”
The service coordinator also noted that the pantry staff look forward to the presence of the Sai Center members, especially the SSE children with their beaming faces and eager-to-help attitude. She remarked that one cannot but enjoy the spirit of unity and joy exuded by the children during the service.
In the words of an SSE student, “Volunteering at the food pantry has helped us understand the value of time, food, and, most of all, the value of helping one another even in the smallest way possible, no matter our size or age. And for that, we are ever grateful.”
The service coordinator remarked, “Sri Sathya Sai Baba has always told us ‘Hands that serve are holier than lips that pray.’ There were obstacles in getting this service off the ground, but volunteering at the pantry has been fulfilling. It has helped our divinity to blossom, gladdened our hearts and made us feel that our life is worthwhile.”