The Prayer Circle
We were just conferring notes, looking for what to focus on next. As we turned around, it was clear that we had our answer. Every man, woman and child was standing in a circle, fingers intertwined and heads bowed, silent, except for one man who was directing a prayer.
“We give thanks for the food that we are about to receive and then pass on...” It was beautiful how everyone, volunteer or recipient, friend or stranger, could come together for that moment, in a prayer that was nondenominational and welcoming. It made clear that this wasn’t “fortunate” people helping the “less fortunate,” but people with big hearts who wanted to give back to their community for the sake of giving. Here, everyone is equal. It really brought to my attention how even something as small as a single Food Link drive can mean so much to people, and how really wonderful it is to be a part of and witness.
Volunteer Lori Ann Lipka explained that Food Link takes things like just-outdated grocery store items “that they would just throw away, but instead it is donated.” It is a wonderful thing, feeding the mouths of those in need while simultaneously reducing the amount of food that goes to rot in landfills, polluting the environment and creating more trash and waste products.
When the prayer was finished, I spoke with the man who led it, Father John Naegele of St. Phillips Episcopal Church. He explained that this was the first food bank of the new year. Although his church has been doing local food drives for over ten years, it was their first time coming to Food Link, and he was asked to lead the prayer. I saw this as another example of the inviting environment that Food Link has strived for, and has succeeded in creating.
Essay by Olivia Braley & Hannah Tsiopanos
Photos by Dmitry Maximov & Cande Casteneda