Friday, July 24, 2009

Project Hope and Other Reasons to Smile

Everyone has talent, but some people seem particularly gifted in one specific area. It is exciting to see what happens when those people wholeheartedly dedicate that talent to the Lord to see what He is able to accomplish through them. A really great part of my visit to Arkansas was seeing how my Dad has found a "perfect fit" in his retirement years. He has joined forces with a couple other visionary men to form Project Hope, a local food bank. The vision is simple really; to provide food to area soup kitchens to be distributed to the hungry and hurting in the Hot Springs area, where pockets of desperate poverty exist.

They have about 2,000 square feet of warehouse space, which is blessedly becoming more and more well stocked.

Several large items, like freezers and a fork lift, have been provided by donations from local churches and other organizations.

A boy scout installed a restroom in the facility as his eagle scout project. I had to take a photo to show my boys what an outstanding job this young man did. The bathroom is much more "upscale" than the rest of the facility as far as being decorated and modern. This young man obviously found it important to not only provide function, but also to make it extremely nice for the people who spend time at the food bank. It was quite a lesson in going above and beyond!

Since March, Project Hope has distributed over 53,000 pounds of food. It is said the most expensive food is the food that doesn't get used, so they really research what people will realistically prepare and eat. They constantly strive to learn the most effective way to distribute the food to the agencies who actually hand it out to individuals. They look for new ways to raise community awareness and educate people about who they are and what they do, always with the hope that with increased visibility will come increased support. Then of course, they actively search for the food and raise the funds to purchase it. That is how my Dad serves.

If the food bank buys a pound of food for one dollar and is able to sell it to a soup kitchen for forty cents, they need to come up with sixty cents to fill in the gap. My Dad loves to talk to people, especially about things he is passionate about, and he has a magical way of making that passion contagious. He now spends his day sharing the exciting news about Project Hope with groups in his town, raising funds that are used to make a visible, immediate, dramatic impact on his community.

In case you can't tell, I'm a little proud of this guy, as well as Ted and Charles, who are also in the business of projecting hope, in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I just had to share.

And speaking of feeding the hungry, that was a tall order here on the home front this week. The boys are heading out to a boy scout camp in Colorado for a week of primitive camping. In case you don't know, "primitive" is camp speak for not showering and peeing on the ground. It is also code for eating out of a backpack. They do not plan to take a cooler, so I was charged with the task of planning easy camp meals with dry, non-refrigerated ingredients for a whole week. The good news is that they can drive right up to the campsite, so the weight of the food doesn't matter since they won't have to carry it for great distances. So, off to the Walmarts I went with the hopes of smuggling some healthy nutrition into those packs.

NOT speaking of nutrition, look at what I found. is so reminiscent of car trips in the 1970's. Now, I'm rather a purist when it comes to cheese, meaning I like for mine to actually contain dairy products and be a proper degree of cold. But, who doesn't love an orange squiggle on a Ritz cracker once every few years??

Dinner last night was a hoot, and I wish I would have taken a picture of their plates. Since I don't tend to cook with many dried and packaged foods, I wasn't sure what my kids would like. So, I bought one each of several different things to try. I came home and cooked it all at once (had every pot and pan in my kitchen in service!) and served sampler platters with a bite or two of each item for them to try! I don't want to risk packing food they don't like since I know they will be exhausted and starving after long days of hiking, rafting, fly fishing and rock climbing. They tried Ramen noodles, prepackaged spaghetti, and vienna sausages for the very first time. Some of the items on the sampler platter were major "misses", but I think I got enough hits to pack a bucket with a week's worth of rations. If all else fails they can eat numerous peanut butter sandwiches. With a squirt of canned cheese as a chaser!

The local attire is as wacky as the menus lately. People have been tromping through my house wearing new hiking boots with shorts or swim trunks, trying to get them broken well broken in. It's a great look in this hundred degree weather.

So, I'm off to pack beef jerky, jiffy pop, and summer sausage into a camp trunk. I will say that I think of things a bit differently now, and I hope the good Lord always reminds my conscience to give thanks as I am privileged to fill my cart at the Walmart.

And eat real, honest to goodness cheese, right out the refrigerator.

1 comment:

Erin said...

WOW! I'm so impressed by what your dad has accomplished! You have every right to be bursting with pride.