First things first: Happy birthday, Pope Francis!
That’s right, gang, it’s Pope Francis’ birthday. If you’ve been hanging out with us for a while, you know how I feel about the current Pope; if you’re new here, the short form is “love bordering on full-tilt fangirl status”. So I vote that we all celebrate by having cake, and possibly jumping up and down and making “squee” noises. If you have a Pope Francis t-shirt, feel free to wear it.
But once that’s done, this feels like a great time to do something…I dunno, Pope-ish. Something Pope Francis himself would approve of. Something that would make him smile if he heard about it. And since this Pope is all about encouraging folks to play nicely and share the toys (seriously. Love him so hard.), the first thing that popped into my head was a food drive. You know how I get about food drives, and the Pope himself invited a few homeless men to join him for his birthday breakfast.
So here’s what I want you to do, if you’re inclined to join the celebration:
Don’t donate any food to the food banks today.
(Yeah, I know, it sounds weird to me too. Stay with me.)
Instead, get your calendar and put a big circle or star or a sticker that looks like a can of soup on Saturday, April 5th.
Originally I was going to go with April 1, but that’s a Tuesday and might be inconvenient. Instead, let’s go with the 5th, and do a food drive then. Saturdays are free days for most people (sorry if you’re one of the exceptions), and it’ll be springtime and (hopefully) sunshiney and generally a good day for getting out and doing something nice.
Now before you think I’ve finally officially lost it, here’s my reasoning. Right now we’re smack dab in the middle of the holiday season. A perfunctory Google search for “holiday food drive” just now turned up–hold onto your hats–428 million results. This is the time of year when everybody is all about the peace on earth and goodwill toward men, and I for one think that’s brilliant.
But if you do a search for “April holidays”, the first result I got suggested that perhaps I would like to participate in celebrating National Welding Month. Or National Pecan Month. Or–and do try to contain yourselves here–Records and Information Management Month.
In other words, ain’t nothin’ goin’ on in April. There’s April Fool’s Day, sure, but that’s not exactly the sort of day that inspires one to great feats of humanitarianism, y’know?
So right now, people are going to great lengths to look out for each other. They’re filled with the Holiday Spirit, and they’re holding food drives, making cash donations, and in some cases, doing dollar-matching programs. They’re signing up to serve meals at soup kitchens. They’re tucking extra cans and boxes into the donation bins. It’s awesome and it’s beautiful, and I love it…
…and come April, all of that is going to have dried up. All the Holiday Spirit, all the Do Something Good For Other People New Year’s Resolutions, all the “I got this gift card for Christmas and I want to spend it on something nice for others”–it’ll all be spent and gone. So let’s change that, shall we?
Let’s make April 5th an unreasonably busy day at the food pantries. Let’s make them secretly resent that anyone ever suggested I start a blog. Let’s get them so geared up for the month that they start idly thinking about whether it’s time to expand the warehouse.
Let’s tuck away a little bit of our Holiday Spirit and trot it back out on April 5th.
What do you think, gang? You in?
If so, go mark your calendars. I’m putting a note on mine now, and there’s a better than average chance (pay attention, local folks) that I’ll host some sort of food drive party or picnic or something on that day. Those of you who live impractically far away from me may wish to check out Feeding America, select a local food bank or food pantry, and hold a drive of your own.
And of course, don’t get me wrong here–if you can donate both now and later, by all means go for it. Hunger is felt pretty acutely right now, when the ads are all about families sitting down around overstuffed tables. But if you can only donate once, make it April 5th. Trust that the big companies and the civic organizations and the youth groups and the schools and the Random Groups of Kind-Hearted People have got it handled for now…and then plan to show up to take your turn at the helm a little bit later.
People don’t stop being hungry just because we pack away the holiday decorations, so let’s start planning now to be there for them when everyone else has gone home.
It’s what Pope Francis would want us to do–and he’s the birthday boy.