I am at home this afternoon.
I am standing at the counter in my kitchen - cupboards bursting forth with food and drink.
I am filling ziplock bags with goldfish crackers and pretzels. Stuffing them into a bigger bag already full with granola bars and fruit snacks.
I will bring this bag to school tomorrow and secretly hand it off with a shoulder squeeze and a smile.
Today was hot lunch day. I'm a volunteer. That means I get to hand out greasy slices of pizza and cartons of chocolate milk to little hands.
After I finished my delivery for today, I was returning my bin to the stack in the hallway outside of the office. It was then that the school secretary came into the hallway with a girl from Hannah's class. "H" followed behind with her head down. "Do you have any extra pizza? H doesn't have a lunch today." We did. We had extra pizza and cartons of milk so I handed one of each quickly to H. She said thank you and quickly made her down the hallway past the moms and boxes and bins.
"She doesn't usually come with lunch", the secretary offered. "Or breakfast or snacks".
"I haven't replenished my stock of food for kids like this for this school year.
I really need to get it done."
I couldn't shake it - that feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I see this girl everyday - her long curly hair and deep brown eyes.
She's got a single mom who works at a bowling alley. This much I know.
Truth be told, I've often wondered, how can someone like that make a living in a city like Vancouver?
I walked up the stairs to Hannah's classroom. It was alive with voices and laughter.
H just happened to be sitting near the back corner of the room, a perimeter of emptiness around her. I sat down beside her and quietly asked if she often doesn't have a lunch to take. She said, "I often don't. My mom makes me a sandwich, but sometimes I eat it for breakfast. We don't have money for any extra stuff."
I told her I'd take care of the extra stuff. I'd fill a bag with it and secretly give it to her at school to keep in her cubby to take what she wants when she wants it. Restore to her a little bit of dignity that comes with privacy and choice that has been stripped away by having to go to the secretary every time she needs to ask for food.
So now there is a bag, ready to go. Filled with excess from my overflowing cupboards.
It's filled, too, with little bits of paper - carefully folded in amongst the snacks.
Words scrawled inside...
You can change the world.
You are significant.
Your life matters.
Your voice counts.
How I want that bag to fill her up.