|by John Bridge '72 • October 14, 2008|
For the past three WABASH Days, men of Wabash and their families have worked with Gleaners Food Bank in Indianapolis to help fight hunger in central Indiana. This is always worthwhile as much of the work done by Gleaners is done by volunteers. Two years ago, we worked at a regularly scheduled Gleaners food distribution, providing food directly to hungry people and, in some cases, even helping them carry the food to their homes. Last year, we packed boxes of food to be delivered to shut-ins. This year, we packed bags of food to be delivered to children at schools on Fridays to take home for the weekend. In many cases, these bags of food will be the only food the children have to eat over the weekend. Our work was important: nearly 80,000 children live in poverty in the central Indiana area served by Gleaners.
Our experienced team of Gleaners workers this year consisted of the following folks, covering five decades of Wabash alumni from the early ‘70’s to this year’s graduating class: John Bridge '72 & Cathy; Rick Adams '74; Chris Baker ’74; Charley Hutchins ’77, Sheryl, Wil and John; Eric Cavanaugh '76, Patti & Sean; Fred Miller '76; Steve Badger '87, Claire and Collin; Kip Chase ’03; Aaron Cook ‘06 & Audra; Dan Sheldon ’06; Evan Wagoner ’06 & Shannon; Bart Bridge '08; Aaron Springhetti '08 and Garrett Thiel ’08.
At 9 A.M. on Saturday, October 11, we all gathered at the Gleaners Food Bank warehouse on East 16th Street in Indianapolis. Our assignment consisted of filling plastic bags with twelve different food items, including cartons of milk and juice, canned beans and spaghetti, apple sauce, dried fruit and nuts, and other simple but nutritious foods. We then tied the bags and packed them in corrugated containers for shipping to schools for distribution. A "production run" consisted of doing this for 65 bags at a time.
Although none of us had experience in packing bags like this, our group’s innate sense of teamwork and efficiency enabled us to work at astonishing speed. Eventually, our team of 24 people was able to prep, fill, tie up, and pack a run of 65 bags in five minutes! Last year, we had exceeded Gleaner’s goal of having us pack 400 boxes of food for shut-ins by 40% when we packed 560 boxes. We were told by Gleaners this year that no other group had ever packed more than 700 bags of food for children in a single session. Our Wabash team blasted by that number: we packed a total of 1,113 bags of food, an improvement of 59% over the previous record. Gleaners again was delighted by our work! And we were satisfied knowing that we had done something to help the hungry children of central Indiana.