A Little Hard Work That is Good for the Soul
Last November, I was part of a group of over 50 Allstate employees that took a bus to the Greater Chicago Food Depository with over 175 pounds of food we had collected for donation to the depository. After a short orientation and explanation of how we were going to help, we donned our Helping Hands t-shirts, and organized into an efficient and energetic assembly line.
Over the next three hours, we distributed 27,125 pounds of food into 1,085 cases meant to feed an individual for at least three days. We then labeled, sealed, and loaded those cases onto 22 pallets for storage in the warehouse.
By the end of the day, we were laughing and joking with our fellow volunteers as if we had known each other for years. The fulfilling experience we shared will forever link us. Those in need of food are not the only beneficiaries from a team volunteer effort.
The pride and sense of accomplishment visible on the faces of the volunteers as we posed for a photo before the ride back home was proof that the team itself benefits.
I had only met many of my fellow volunteers that day. Since then, Ive kept in touch with some of them and weve volunteered together on other occasions. We worked together on Earth Day to clean the forest preserves. I worked at the Buffalo Creek Forest Preserve in Buffalo Grove. This list of how long litter lasts kept us motivated.
Glass bottles 1,000,000 years
Aluminum cans 80-100 years
Rubber boot sole 50-80 years
Nylon fabric 30-40 years
Plastic bags 10-20 years
Cigarette 1-5 years
Orange and banana peels 2-5 weeks
We decided to leave the fruit remnants for the animals and concentrate on the cans, plastic and cigarette butts.
We only spent four hours cleaning, but we filled bags and bags with garbage. As we headed back to the parking lot to pack up and leave, there were families on bikes and moms pushing strollers heading into the preserve on the walking paths.
We turned and smiled to each other knowing that what we did would make at least a small difference to a child at play.