LeAnn Grabski
December 17, 2014

by Leann Grabski, Child Hunger Corps Member

The Child Hunger Corps is a national service program designed to increase the capacity and capability of food banks to execute programs targeted towards the alleviation of child hunger. The objective of the program is to increase the number of nutritious meals served to children in need in local communities across the country. The Child Hunger Corps initiative is sponsored by the ConAgra Foods Foundation.

 The fourth cohort of Corps members has been working at their Feeding America member food bank host sites since August 2013. This post is by fourth cohort member Leann Grabski, Child Hunger Corps member at Mid-South Food Bank.

One of my all-time favorite songs is the Tina Turner version of "Proud Mary." I dare you to listen to that song and not feel energized by the end. I listen to this song working out and it may even be on a mix tape or two in my collection; my love for this song runs deep. Naturally adding to my love is the reference to my current home of Memphis.

There is another line of the song I had not really noticed or fully appreciated until now. Tina tells us that "people on the river are happy to give." I see this spirit in action every day working just a few miles from the mighty Mississippi here at the Mid-South Food Bank. 

Our annual Holiday Food Drive is just another day of the year where people are more than happy to give. We set up drop off locations at sites across the city and ask the community to come out to donate food or funds to help support our work. We start early, calling out to the community during the morning news broadcast, and stay open late, until the 6 o'clock news, asking for everyone to help anyway they can.

This year we endured cold temperatures and periods of heavy rain but even that wasn't enough to dampen the spirit of our volunteers or the people who came out to donate. There were parents bringing young children out with a few cans of food to give, teaching them at a young age what the true spirit of the holidays is. Two little girls dressed up as angels to deliver their donation. They got to meet a news reporter and were interviewed on live TV. 

Others simply came to give because today they could, but in the past they received donations. One man delivered a donation he collected at his business, and then added a check from his family and another cash donation "just because he could."

I met a WWII veteran with a trunk filled with canned goods who was giving because he still remembers the starving children he saw during war time. He said he couldn't let children at home suffer that way. 

Hearing personal stories always warms your heart, but also opening up our donation bucket to count the money you can feel the spirit in every $10, $20 and $50 dollar bill that was
anonymously dropped in. We know times are still tough, and budgets are stretched thin over the holidays and yet, as Tina said, "People on the river are happy to give."


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