A volunteering story by: Luis E. Espinosa-Zagal

My younger brother volunteers for an organization called Loaves & Fishes. Loaves & Fishes is an organization that allows individuals in the community to come and receive free food. He first got involved through school, then him and a friend continued to go and volunteer. Once all the volunteers arrive, they are split into several different groups. Each group has a different task for the day. Volunteers assigned to the back room are mainly in charge of putting together meal packs. A meal pack is a bag full of different foods. For example, if it is breakfast time, then a meal pack could consist of a cereal, oatmeal boxes, fruit gummy snacks, and other breakfast foods. Volunteers continue to make bags, each bag containing the same foods. Some of these bags are then stored or put out in the front for people to take.
In the front things are a bit different. There are several different tasks. One group of volunteers is placed in the registration area. Everyone who wants to receive food has to register in order to get in line. These volunteers register everyone coming in as quickly as they can to help people get what they came for. Another group of volunteers is in charge of the food tables. They have to set up each table so that each table has a different food. Other than the meal pack, people also receive other foods they would like from these tables. The amount that they can choose depends on the size of their family household. Here the volunteers help distribute the food and assist the people with anything that they might need. My younger brother has helped in all three of these tasks and he absolutely loves doing all three things.

The Inspiration

Growing up our family never really had much. There were times where we hardly had anything to eat. Some days we would go through a day with only bread and water. Though my father struggled to put food on the table, he was always willing to give to others in need. My father would take anyone in need into our home no matter how little we had ourselves. He is one of my younger brother’s inspirations. Our father inspired him to help others in need. Our mother was also a huge inspiration on him. She always taught us to help others in need in any way you could. She always welcomed everyone into our home with open arms. She never turned anyone away.
My younger brother volunteers in many different places doing many different things, but volunteering at Loaves & Fishes is definitely his favorite. It is his favorite because not only is he helping families in need, but also he is helping families have food. He can relate to not having enough to eat back when he was younger. He recalls that awful feeling of not only being hungry, but of also seeing our parents struggling to bring us food. If he can help families not feel the same way he did, then that means the world to him. He truly believes that no one deserves to feel that way. That is why he especially loves volunteering for Loaves & Fishes. My younger brother is definitely an inspiration to me, because even though he works two jobs and he is a student, he always finds time to help others and to volunteer in many different places.

The Aha! moment…

My younger brother has learned several things from volunteering at Loaves & Fishes. One of the most important things he has learned is that economic problems affects many different families no matter the size, color, or background. Problems can hit anyone, no matter who they might be, at any point in time. This has taught him to never judge anyone by how they look or by what they might have because one never knows whether that person or that family is struggling with something. He has seen all kinds of families come in for help.
Volunteering there has also taught him that even the smallest gesture can make the biggest difference in someone’s day or life. He has seen a simple bag of food bring a person to tears. They were tears of gratitude and joy. He has seen the joy in people’s faces from receiving help. All this because of a simple bag of food. He has learned that sometimes even a smile can make someone’s day a ton brighter,
One other thing he has learned is that helping others can bring people together. He has made a ton of good friends volunteering there. A ton of volunteers come in as strangers and by the end of the day they leave as friends. He has learned that helping others is an extremely powerful thing. He truly believes that there is nothing bad that can come from helping others in need, no matter if you know them or not. Volunteering there has been a huge learning experience for my younger brother.

To summarize it in three words…

  • Sharing, Love, Togetherness

Why should you do this

He strongly encourages others to volunteer how he did no matter the organization. It is a wonderful learning experience and a ton of fun.

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