My lodge has been working with Arlington Food Assistance Center to collect food to support their important work of providing food assistance to the families in our community. AFAC sends out a regular email newsletter and I am always shocked by the number of families they serve. A recent newsletter showed that their services have increased 72% over the past two years. It’s a staggering growth.
Part of this is due to the hard work of their director and staff, in increasing the outreach they do in the community. Another angle on it is the very real truth that need for this type of service has increased dramatically over the last couple years. With the current economic situation, more people are in need and the people who were in need before are still there. In almost all sectors there is very little upward mobility. The trend has been down – layoffs, pay cuts, work reduction, etc.
What? You want to start collecting food for your local food bank? Good on you. Here’s what you do. First, get your Worshipful Master’s buy-in. As always, he rules and governs the lodge, so you really need to contact him and at least let him know what you are doing. Also, contact a local food bank to let them know what you are doing. They will be tickled pink that you are helping.
Second, put a bin in a visible location in the lodge. Start it off with some donations. It’s like a tip jar. Nobody puts a tip in an empty tip jar. Plus, your willingness to donate is a sign that you are as invested as you are asking your brethren to be.
Third, announce in lodge, via email, and even in casual conversation, that the lodge is collecting food. Have the director of the food bank come give a quick talk at a lodge meeting to describe the need and talk about what they do.
Fourth, follow through and remind the brethren. If you get a thank-you note, read it in lodge or ask your secretary to do so. Keep talking about this effort. What I do, since we do not have a fee for dinner, is encourage every brother to bring one non-perishable item for the food drive in exchange for the fine repast they enjoy. Better yet, bring two items, because you know that someone else will have forgotten.
In my estimation, this is one of the most important things we can be doing to support the community in which we live and work. Not only does it help people and keep us true to our promise, but it helps demystify Freemasonry by bringing us into the community in a visible way. That leads to questions and to more petitions for membership. You can’t ask for a better combination of all-around good results.
Oh yeah – no, that photo is not from my lodge’s food drive. We don’t have that much collected right now. Many thanks to ladybugbkt, who put this photo on Flickr.