Rolling with the PunchesNov 30, 2021 07:31PM ● By Jared Zornitzer
I recently volunteered at a food bank in Troy, New York. I fulfilled customer orders by gathering and bagging their groceries. They were not customers in the traditional sense; they did not have to pay for their food. These community members are allowed to come in once a month and stock up on food for their whole family for free.
Three hours of volunteering gave me ample time to consider my own living conditions and reflect on how much I have to be grateful for. I was raised in a home with an abundance of food and never had to go hungry whatsoever. It was a shock to be handing a month’s worth of packaged food to customers, all of which fit into about four shopping bags. My family can fill four shopping bags in our weekly shopping trips. This was a tangible example of a community with residents who cannot afford extra food—they survive on the bare minimum.
Despite their disheartening food situation, every single customer who came into the food bank had a smile on their face. All that they were focusing on was that a group of people were performing an incredibly altruistic deed for them (the food bank owners and all the people who help stock the shelves with food). They were excited to have access to items such as a stick of butter or a box of cereal, which I had always taken for granted.
I enjoyed getting to know the food bank owners. I had never met people who are so devoted to uplifting less fortunate members of their community. They have operated this food bank in Troy for years, helping to feed those in need. They are passionate about building relationships with their customers and always ask how they are doing whenever they visit the food bank. They are an exemplary model of generosity and having a positive impact on one’s community.
This experience taught me that lightness can exist in dark places. I interacted with customers who, on paper, should be despondent due to their slim food options. In contrast, they were upbeat and exuded an appreciation for the present moment which we all should strive toward. I will remember their attitude of not letting hardship be too discouraging and rolling with the punches.
Jared Zornitzer is a full-time college student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY studying engineering. An advocate of balancing work and school with exercise and healthy living, he loves hiking, biking, running, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and learning in his classes.