#10: Give Back - March
First, I really must (shamefully) admit that I don't volunteer enough. Not nearly enough. As someone who grew up poor - poor enough to know the taste of government cheese and wear donated clothes - I know the power of charity. I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end, the mixed emotions of gratefulness, shame, and hope. Oh, man, do I know.
So in creating my 40 by 40 bucket list, I thought it was incredibly important to challenge myself to return to my roots, embrace the power of giving back, and pay it forward.
This morning was my first "give back" event for The 40 by 40 Project. I gulped some coffee, threw on some clothes, and headed out to join the Hashtag Lunchbag team, whose New York branch meets the last Sunday of every month at 10:00am, usually at the sideBAR sports bar in Union Square. I honestly had no idea what to expect but I quickly realized this is one helluva way to spend a Sunday!
The group is big. Huge! Well, huge for a cold, drizzly Sunday morning. There were easily 50 people, all focused on playing their role to make it happen. There were stations for sandwich making, stations for lunchbag assembly, and stations - where I landed! - to write hundreds of uplifting notes to tuck into the bags. It was a well oiled machine, complete with a DJ pumping music into the already-positive crowd, transforming a sleepy volunteer experience into a full-on party!
After assembling god-knows how many bagged lunches, we broke into groups and hit the pavement, scattering throughout the city to distribute our lunches to hungry New Yorkers. The hand-drawn logos on each paper bag are recognizable. It turned out, many people we approached were not only familiar with the organization but eagerly wait for the telltale brown bags. Smiles from the givers. Smiles from those who receive. There was truly a feeling of connection and joy with every step of this experience and I was left with one overwhelming thought during my subway ride home...
To join the the #Hashtag Lunchbag party, check out their website at www.hashtaglunchbag.org and sign up for an event in your city.