Every Week I Do It


Every week (usually on Friday) I go to the grocery store.  (Usually Shoprite as they have the best prices in my neck of the woods.)  And every week I always buy at least one thing extra.  Not for me, but for our local food pantry.

What I buy depends on what is on sale.  And, of course it has to be something that the pantry needs and can use.  (So no refrigerated or frozen items.)  I'm not spending a lot of money.  (I don't have that much, but then who does these days.)  Less than $10 a week out of a weekly grocery bill that is growing rapidly.  (I long for the days when I could get away with spending less than $100 a week...its come close to doubling now and there are only 3 of us in my family.)  So this is not a big deal.  It's not breaking the bank.

Sometimes I buy food like pasta or pasta sauce.  This week there was a really good deal on tuna, so that's what I got.  But more often than not I purchase items that are not edible.  Yes, I go for the cheap shampoo or bars of soap.  I know they will keep for a long time.  (Is there an expiration on such things?)  After all, people don't just need to eat, they need to keep clean too.

To that end, my favorite item to buy when it is on sale is laundry detergent.  Again, it's not going to expire and I feel like I am really getting a lot for my money.  How long does a bottle of detergent last?  I do a lot of laundry in my house.  (Too much.)  I am conservative in my use of detergent.  ("They" tell us we don't need to use a whole capful and I listen to "them," whoever they are.)  I figure a bottle has got last a month or more for me.  When there is a 3 for $3 sale (use that digital coupon), I will try to get as many as the sale will allow.  And if I have to run to store again during the week (which is happening more and more often these days), I will make sure to get more.  

I like to take those big bottles and put them in the food pantry donation box, which is conveniently located right outside the church which hosts the monthly give away.  Whoever came up with idea of a plastic deck box is a genius.  It's safe and easy to use and keeps the items dry.  Yes, I suppose that someone could come by and take everything, but...

When there is nothing in the box (it is cleaned out daily; brought inside to be sorted and eventually packed into individual grocery bags that are handed out once a month) I feel good putting my purchases in. Like I am starting something good that morning.  (I usually drop my items off early Friday morning; either right after I have gone shopping or after I have dropped the kid off at school.)  If the bin is full (as it was this morning; someone was really working the soup and crushed tomato sale), I know that my small contribution is still making a difference.

What I do is a little thing.  It's not something I do for praise.  (Although here I am writing about it; am I looking for applause and a big pat on the back?  Perhaps?)  I do it because I CAN.  

I know how this works.  During this pandemic, things have had to change.  This church can no longer invite people inside for groceries, but instead spends a couple of days a month packing up bags.  Bags that fill pews (and actually make a good social distancing tool).  Too look inside towards the end of the month, before the pantry is "open for business" is amazing.  Instead of people, there are bags...so many bags.  Then on the 4th Saturday of the month, those bags are loaded into cars as those in need drive in and pop the trunk to be filled with several bags.  Maybe it's even quicker and more efficient than it had been previously.  I don't know, I'm not a volunteer.  But what I do know is that cars line up hours before the pantry opens.  That really says something.

My bottle of laundry detergent, can of pasta sauce or tube of toothpaste is not going to change someone's life.  But it can make someone's life easier and in today's crazy, stress filled world that's a really good thing.

Next week Barilla pasta, Frenceso Rinaldi sauce and Arm & Hammer body wash are all on sale at Shoprite.  So now you know what will be in my grocery cart next Friday.  What will be in yours?


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