I started Thanksgiving Day by attempting Yes.Fit’s 6.2-mile Turkey Trot with all three of my butterballs. I should have known this wouldn’t work, having a year’s worth of experience walking these three dogs, who all have different walking styles. Snow White just wants to move and find things to eat, Fletcher has to sniff every blade of grass, and Minnie needs constant reassurance, flying into a sprint and then asking to be held. We often hear, “You have your hands full!” or “Are they all yours?” or “Are you a dog walker?!” I love these last people who seem to think I appear to be walking these animals at a professional level. Long story short, we covered 1.14 miles at a blistering pace of 29’24”/mi. Don’t blink. You might miss us.
I am not a racer, but I set a goal of running a 5K this year. This was before the COVID 19 pandemic became a global beast threatening normalcy the world over. Back in January, it seemed a reasonable goal. I was trying to get healthier and needed to get several pounds off an overweight chihuahua. You hear about people who lose weight and change their lives with their dogs as their running buddies—we could those people! Reader, we are not those people.
The world changed. People got sick. People lost jobs. The world moved online. I locked down like so many thinking we would get back to normal in a few weeks, but we didn’t. I had groceries delivered to my doorstep. I made banana bread. I took a lot of walks, but I never raced. And people still got sick, and people still lost jobs, and more and more of our lives were lived behind a screen. At Hope 4 All we helped in the ways we could by donating money to COVID to relief and seeking out volunteer opportunities that seemed safe based on what we knew at the time. I felt like we weren’t doing enough, but I didn’t know what else we could do. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough, but I didn’t know what else I could do.
Spring turned to summer and things weren’t getting better. Summer turned to fall and things haven’t gotten better. As we move into winter, things are worse than they were when we first heard the term COVID 19. People are still getting sick, and people are still losing jobs, and we are all trying to figure out how much of our lives we can reasonably live online. More and more charities need funding for relief while fewer people are able to give. Volunteers are needed at least as much as before the pandemic, but fewer people are available to safely contribute their time.
At Hope 4 All, we’ve helped out at Grand Prairie United Charities and food distribution events with the North Texas Food Bank to get basic provisions to people in need and donated to organizations providing hunger relief. We packed donated food and surplus from local stores and restaurants into bags, surprised at surprised at how quickly we ran out of fresh produce to give to people in need. We loaded boxes into cars in the Lone Star Park parking lot while cars stretched out in lines so long we couldn’t see the end. We gave money to 8020 Concepts to help them provide no-questions-asked free meals over the summer and recently donated to GEM Outreach to help them get Thanksgiving meals to people in need. We continue looking for ways to help our community in a time of national isolation, chaos, and grief.
Today, on November 27th, I took the dogs out again to get a few more miles of our Turkey Trot for Feeding America. Food insecurity leads to poor nutrition, which can cause diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Children who are hungry struggle at school academically and behaviorally. As a byproduct of poverty, people who are hungry often also struggle with employment, housing, and healthcare shortages. The impact of COVID 19 has pushed even more people into food insecurity as they have lost jobs and faced health challenges. Feeding America is one of many nonprofit organizations fighting against food insecurity with help from individual and corporate donors. Every dollar donated can provide ten meals for our vulnerable neighbors in need.
I had a lovely meal yesterday with plenty to eat and share. I delivered food to family who couldn’t be with us in person, then went back to my mom’s house today and took home still more leftovers. We have so much while others struggle. I am grateful, lucky, and privileged to have all my basic needs met. I am loved, I am fed, I am clothed, there is a roof over my head, and I have a job I love that allows me to earn a living while helping others. I took a walk today that helped provide food for people facing food insecurity. It’s a small thing, but it’s something. If you can, I encourage you to reach out to your local food bank and ask what they need, mask up and volunteer at a food distribution event in your area, or donate online to the many charities fighting hunger. Or, even if you don’t think you’ll ever run the 5K you said you were going to run, leash up the dogs and walk for a charity that matters to you. The world might look different now, but there are always ways to help each other in times of need.