by Caroline

Every year on Cesar Chavez Day (March 31st for those of you not living in California, Texas, or Colorado, where the labor leader’s birthday is a state holiday), my sons’ school celebrates a school-wide day of service. The kids, faculty, and staff fan out around the city and the larger bay area, contributing their enthusiastic labor to various organizations needing help. I’ve driven groups to a small farm in San Anselmo where the kids learned about bee keeping and planted lettuces; a preschool in the Castro where they cleaned furniture and painted a mural; or stayed back at school with the kindergartners, painting welcome back posters and baking cookies for the older volunteers’ return.

This year, the school is organizing more frequent service days, and we recently spent a couple hours at the San Francisco Food Bank, bagging one-pound portions of rice, beans, and granola for the food bank’s recipients. I was on rice detail, and six of us donned gloves and hair nets to stand around a table measuring portions, filling bags, sealing them shut, labeling and packing them into cardboard boxes, assembly-line style.

The group of us bagged 570 pounds of rice before our shift was done. I kept looking at those bags of rice, thinking how casually I measure out a couple cups of rice for our dinners. Our work helped feed a lot of people, for which I’m grateful, but it also — as volunteer work usually does — fed us quite satisfyingly as well. I’m looking forward to our next shift.