God gave me many special blessings in 2012, but there are two that really stand out that have been unexpected, life-changing gifts: the opportunity to learn to play the cello, and being a member of the Thomas County Genesis Board. I had no idea what a joy it would be to belong to Thomas County Genesis–in fact, I really didn’t know very much about what this wonderful organization does when I came onto the board. Now that I have been a part for almost a whole-year cycle, I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
The purpose of Genesis-Thomas County, Inc. is to offer food assistance to Thomas County residents. This is accomplished by providing monthly food packages to qualifying clients from the Food Bank, and by special projects such as the Summer Food for Kids Program and the annual Christmas Food Basket Project. The board members participate in monthly administrative meetings, but this board is also considered a “working” board in that each board member signs up for months during which they help stock the food bank. We are also active in food drives and the special projects, so it is a great opportunity for service.
The Christmas Basket project is a huge undertaking! I began hearing about all that was involved back when I joined the board in February, but as the year progressed, I gradually learned more and more about all of the work that had to be done to bring these food boxes together! There were tons of mailings, contacts, orders, labelling, etc., not to mention the physical processes of moving, sorting, and processing the food. I had complete confidence, however, that even though the steps were many and seemed complicated, that in the end it would be well-organized and well-executed like every other Genesis activity I have been involved with.
I was right: the whole event went together like a well-oiled machine! By the time the community was invited to come help fill the boxes with all of the wonderful food items, all of the boxes were clearly identified by code numbers, the foods and various quantities were clearly shown, and the cart system was all prepared. With all of the great planning and community involvement, we had baskets prepared for nearly 200 families in just a few hours! The boxes included special holiday items, but the main focus was on nutritious, regular staples that could help people feed their families during this busy time of year. They included peanut butter, green beans, corn, peas, tomatoes, pork and beans, canned fruit, spaghetti sauce, soup, tuna, Hamburger Helper mixes, brownie mixes, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, oatmeal, spaghetti noodles, pudding, fruit, bread, ham, hamburger, and potatoes.
In addition to the wonderful food boxes, people could apply to get additional holiday items for their kids. The Kiwanis group held a toy drive to provide new, wrapped gifts; the local fire department worked with a correctional facility to refurbish bicycles. It was really unbelievable, and also humbling to be part of such a great project.
There were many organizations that assisted in a myriad of ways with this project, but one group really stood out: the Colby Community College Baseball Team. Those great guys came in shifts to help with everything from filling boxes, lifting heavy items, carrying packages out to cars, to helping clean up. They were there from the beginning to the end, and they were polite, happy volunteers. The Prairie Family is now their greatest fan club, and we are looking forward to enjoying some of their games in the spring!
Genesis has been a blessing not only to me, but also to my whole family. All of them have helped from time-to-time, and they have also discovered the joy that comes from hard work. Cosette and John are especially enthusiastic–whenever there is an opportunity to help out with a project or at the Food Bank, they are there. In fact, they regularly ask me when the next time will be!
So, God has greatly enriched my life through Thomas County Genesis. It has been a true blessing serving on this board and getting to know the special people who have given many, many years to this organization. Every single board member is a dear friend, and I will greatly miss those who are unable to continue in the coming year. That being said, I look forward to getting to know the new people who will be joining us soon! Yes, I am a “newbie,” but, Lord willing, I hope to be able to continue working with this fabulous group for many years to come!
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