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In early 2020, Brittany Atkinson found herself in a rut. With a raging pandemic turning the world upside down for many, life felt uncertain and unstable. She was inspired to call the St. Vincent’s soup kitchen to see how she could help the homeless community. She and her family had volunteered there before and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to focus on others rather than themselves.
Times were hard for the soup kitchen. The pandemic called for a complete change in how they were running things. Rather than have those of the homeless community come in for meals, they needed to find a way to provide and distribute sack lunches to maintain appropriate social distancing.
This is where Brittany stepped in. She rallied her neighbors and promised the soup kitchen that they would prepare 1,000 sack lunches every week. The kitchen provided them with the sandwich supplies, and Brittany distributed sandwich making kits to her neighbors who had jumped on board. They added snacks and desserts to the lunches as well. Over 30 of her neighbors, from ages 6 to 80, helped make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
One neighbor, in her 80’s, added an extra step to the sandwich making process, writing handwritten notes and attaching hand-cut hearts to each and every lunch sack. Her messages of “we see you” and “we care about you” touched not just those that received the lunches, but also Brittany.
Over the course of twelve weeks, Brittany and her family made over 1,200 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Together as a neighborhood, they made over 12,000. Brittany noted that, “None of us can fix everything, but we can all do something that makes a difference for people. We can make a big difference together.”
As a family that loves to travel regularly, Brittany emphasizes that you don’t have to travel the world to do a good deed or provide service. She says, “there are people right around the corner, there’s a need just down the road”.
The perspective and joy that comes through service benefits both the giver and the receiver. Thank you, Brittany, for helping us all see that small acts of service can make a big difference.