It was one of those days. Yes, the sun was shining and yes, the energy at the Soup Kitchen was up and positive. Still, stress was in the air. A couple of staff members were out unexpectedly. Some necessary supplies had not arrived in a timely manner. The phones and the internet service were fading in and out, which made it difficult to get any office work accomplished. It was frustrating, as only the days when it’s impossible to complete any single task can be.
I know life is about the interruptions, and that there are invitations to be found in all circumstances, but I confess: I was aggravated. Given the impossibility of even beginning my office “to do” list, I wandered downstairs for my daily check-in with HASK. As I approached our Volunteer Manager, he told me that the pre-K class from Avenues School was due to arrive any minute and that they were bringing sandwiches they had made to donate to our guests.
So I waited outside with a couple of other staff members to greet our visitors. Soon enough, around the corner they came; twelve tiny students and their three teachers. At about a half a block away they saw we were waiting for them, and they started waving and jumping up and down. Then a cacophony of happy sound as they shouted out to us: “One hundred and fifty!! We made one hundred and fifty sandwiches!” They could not have been more excited.
Somehow, the teachers corralled the students into paper volunteer hats and lined them up behind the volunteer banner so we could take a picture. Joyfully the children unloaded their sandwiches, all in bags clearly labeled and decorated, onto the table we provided for them. They could barely contain their energy as they pointed out the individual pictures they had drawn; as they shouted out the type of sandwich they had contributed. And when they lined up, two by two, to walk back to school and I thanked them for their generosity and hard work, they spontaneously broke into a chant of “Yay! Yay! Yay Yay Yay!” as they marched together down the street. It was so much fun to see these young volunteers. And their enthusiasm was such an infectious force for good in the midst of ongoing unknowns, continuing change. For the staff who greeted them, the day was transformed. Sometimes small acts can cause a seismic shift. Sometimes the unexpected gifts are the ones that make all the difference.