Generosity in the Midst of a Pandemic

Paola Nunez
Newman University Alumni

The day began like any other day: Cars drove up. We placed their meals on the table. They picked up their meals and drove away.

Toward the end of the shift, the flow of our meal distribution station became interrupted. A man drove up and got out of the car carrying a heavy bag. He gave the bag to the station leader and took his meals.

Everyone working at the station starred in silent anticipation as the car drove away. When the station leader opened the bag, she found several bottles of ice-cold soda. The silence continued. No one knew what to do or what to say.

The station leader broke the silence and she began passing out the bottles of soda. I declined to take one. Part of me was still in shock by the events, while the other part was uncomfortable by the gesture.

You see, I didn’t sign up to volunteer with the American Red Cross to get any sort of recognition. I became a volunteer to do something for those affected by COVID-19. I was more than content helping the Los Angeles Unified Feeding Field Team pack and distribute meals to children and adults in need. I didn’t need a bottle of soda to validate my volunteerism.

Yet, there was something deeper in his gesture. It reminded me of the parable of the widow and the two coins.

“A poor widow came and put in two small coins, the equivalent of a penny. Then [Jesus] called his disciples and said to them, ‘In truth I tell you, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury; for they have all put in money they could spare, but she in her poverty has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.” Mark 12: 42-44

In the man’s hour of need, he didn’t just take what he needed. Instead, he shared with us all that he had. Week after week, he continued to bring us refreshments, asking nothing in return. When someone finally asked him why he was bringing us drinks, he said it was the least he could do to help us stay cool while standing in the hot sun.

Months from now, when I look back on the pandemic, I hope I did as much for others as this man did for me. 

– Paola

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