The orange juice guy
Hurricane Ida made landfall near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, on Aug. 29. It was devastating to see the news of how thousands of people were left without home, food, water, power, and basic necessities. I wished I could help.
I had been volunteering with NEHS (National Elementary Honor Society) for a few months, but when I read a headline in a local newspaper, “Houston Food Bank Needs Volunteers,” for Hurricane Ida disaster-recovery efforts, I saw my chance to give back to the community.
I registered for a shift at the Houston Food Bank and went with my dad that weekend afternoon. Our shift began around 1 p.m. with security, safety guidelines, and other instructions. Our job was to pack meal boxes at the warehouse. Each person was given a certain place behind the conveyor belt. Some people were making boxes, some were sorting, some were packing items such as canned meat, oatmeal, and juice, and others were labelling and sealing boxes.
I was in charge of lifting and packing heavy orange juice boxes. The belt was moving quite fast. I have to admit it felt a little stressful and exhausting at times. I had to lift a juice box quickly, put it in, and then lift the whole box to finally put it back on the conveyor belt. I went on non-stop till 4.30 p.m. and did not even notice the time until the wrap-up instructions came in.
Everyone on our team was in the best spirits and was kind and supportive. We packed 540 boxes and made 12,600 meals. The shift was filled with hard work and a little bit of laughter. I was the youngest to pack juice for a non-stop 2.55 hours that day, and they even named me “the orange juice guy,” which made me laugh.
I felt like I made a tiny bit of a difference. It was a unique experience, and I can’t wait to help out again. Knowing that I might have helped a few people with just a few hours of my time felt incredibly satisfying. I have to agree there is only one thing more precious than our time, and that’s what we spend it on.
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