Lisa Aquino

Lisa DH Aquino | April 2021 | The North Star Catholic

“The food is falling off the shelves.” You can imagine my delight and gratitude when our AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America), Katie Gordon, told me how crowded the shelves at St. Francis House Food Pantry were this week because we had so much food.

The Catholic Social Services (CSS) staff have had to figure out creative ways to make sure all the food you have donated fits! I don’t think we have ever seen the pantry this full, and my heart is overflowing with thanks.

I’m sure many of you reading have met Katie, the dedicated VISTA behind the 40 Days of Lent Food Drive, along with amazing volunteers Joanne Ackerman and Pat Kennish. Katie’s bright smile and positive spirit fill the food pantry when accepting donations from all the amazing parishes and people participating in this project. I hope you have had the opportunity to meet her.

Just the other day, I stopped in St. Francis House, and the place was humming. Our amazing volunteers are coming back, fully vaccinated and socially distant, but working to get food out to people who need it.

They were celebrating being back together, along with Katie and our staff. It felt so good, especially in this time when we all have been so isolated.

You could see that it felt good to be together doing something for others, and that is the feeling all of you from parishes throughout the community get when you donate food as well. You’re giving back and doing your part for someone in need during this bleak time.

I am humbled to hear about this project’s success and cannot fully express our gratitude to all the parishes and people who have been involved in the food drive. So far, you have collected over 14,000 pounds of food for our neighbors in need.

The parishes across Anchorage continue to rise to the challenge when it’s needed most. Mother Teresa once said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” With each gift you give – whether it’s a can of chicken, an hour of your time, or simply a smile – you are creating ripples. You are impacting so many people with each helping hand, and our community is so thankful.

Many of our neighbors are experiencing hunger and food insecurity – approximately 1 in 6 Alaskans and 1 in 4 Alaskan children. This is a large, systemic issue that will take much effort, time, and collaboration with partners to fix. Although the problem is grand, these donations and gifts – a can of chicken, an hour of your time, a conversation with a friend about hunger in Alaska – they are all the stones that create ripples and help to enact big change.

During this season of Lent, our parishes have shared all God’s gifts – through time, talents, treasure, and more. They are making one large ripple and feeding hundreds of children, parents, and elders. The 14,000 pounds of food donated so far will provide for over 550 people. We know parishes continue to collect food and, that the number of people impacted will only grow.

Thank you for your gifts, love, and hope this Lenten season. While the food is quite literally falling off the shelves, the love our parishes have for their neighbors is too. Your support and unwavering commitment to our vulnerable neighbors is felt in St. Francis House Food Pantry right now, and I am certain that those we serve can feel it as well. Thank you not only for your gifts, but also for the love and care you have for those in need – they’re both “falling off the shelves.”

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