Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What Matters to You?

Do you remember receiving a gift that really mattered to you?

For me, the gift I received that really mattered was an invitation.

The gift arrived when I was just out of school. My wife and I were in our first year of marriage, in our first apartment, living far from either of our families. We didn’t have much money, or know a lot of people. Thanksgiving was just around the corner. We felt awkward asking any of our new friends to share the holiday with us, and even more awkward making a lavish dinner for only two people. So, our grand Thanksgiving plan was to spend a day huddled in our apartment with movies and takeout.

Everything changed when we got a call from a woman we knew who lived on the other end of the bay. She invited us to her place for the Big Meal. Even though we didn't know her that well, or know who else would be there, we decided to take our chances and accept.

It turned out that we spent a truly magnificent Thanksgiving Day cooking, swapping stories, laughing, and hanging out with the oddest collection of people. There was a long-lost uncle, with beard and VW van. There was a classmate and his girlfriend. There was a friend of a friend, absent the friend that connected him. There were the two radical economic activists who lived downstairs. There was a foreign exchange student from a nearby school no one else had attended. And there were my wife and myself.

Lucky for us, our friend didn't share our reluctance to invite almost total strangers to the table. We enjoyed a wonderful holiday, and started a deep and lasting friendship.

The best thing about this gift was that it made me want to share it with others. In the (many) intervening years, my wife and I have made a practice of inviting widely for Thanksgiving. And we’ve never had a disappointing day, or spent that time with movies and takeout.

One thing I love about my work at Second Harvest is that I'm able to be a small part of a big invitation – the invitation to those who are hungry to come and eat their fill. Because of those who are willing to share what's on their table, those who are hungry can have milk and bread without cost. These are the gifts that have the power to change lives.

I'd like to know what gift you have received, that really mattered to you. Was it a bicycle or a special toy? Was it a piece of clothing or a plane ticket? Was it a gift of love? Or opportunity? Or time? Was it a meal?

I invite you to share your story by commenting below. For each comment we receive, our CEO Kathy Jackson will donate $10 to the "Share Your Story" 2009 Holiday Food and Fund drive.


Bran Scott
Annual Fund and Systems Manager
Second Harvest Food Bank