(By Baxie) On November 25th at exactly 6AM we will begin the Mayflower Marathon at the Basketball Hall of Fame. For many people this is an event filled with generosity and good intention. For others, this is simply about teaching the homeless a little something about portion control. Last year the Mayflower Marathon raised nearly $103,000 in both cash and food for the Springfield Open Pantry’s emergency food kitchen. You were responsible for that. We were just the cheerleaders.
Last year the Open Pantry fed nearly 39,000 people. Half of those people were children. This comes at a time when the state and the federal government has been cutting budgets and services for people in need. Unfortunately, demand is expected to rise in 2014. Think about that the next time you’re sucking down that $9 latte with the caramel swirl and the non-fat soy milk.
Not that I’m trying to run a load of guilt in your direction, but while you’re sitting there picking through you $32 rib eye with extra mushroom au jus, remember that there are families who are profoundly worse off than you. These aren’t just people who are homeless. These are people who are unemployed, displaced, veterans, mothers, fathers, children, and many more who would not get a hot meal tonight had it not been for the grace of your effort and generosity.
That’s certainly something to thing about. It might seem like only a can of soup to you. But for many people in the area, that can of soup is an entire meal. “Soup’s not a meal.”, you say? Well, it is meal. It’s a damn fine meal. It’s even better when you may not be able to afford it on your own or if you have children to feed first. Put into that perspective, a single can of soup is Godsend. The truth is we are all just one paycheck away from being destitute. Many of the people who use these services never thought that they would be in this position.
But it happens.
For many years, a man and his family would make the trip down to the Mayflower Marathon from Vermont to donate a single bag of food. The man would often drive to Hall of Fame with his kids so that they would understand what the spirit of gratitude and giving was all about. This man had been homeless. He knew the hardship, the stigma, the humility of needed help. He never forgot those difficult days. Thankfully, he was able pull himself out of that difficult situation and begin to provide for his wife and family. Rather than distance himself from homelessness, he chose to use it to teach the value of charitable work for his family.
His story has always been an inspirational one. His story is one of the reasons why I have such passion for this event. This is a man who so appreciated the generosity of others that he chose to repay it back for the rest of his life. Amazing. We should all learn from his example. All of us.