Recently, a very special person sent me an email asking whether I might be able to donate a bag of groceries over the hoildays to VIVA House in Baltimore. When i read the carefully thought out lists that had been prepared by the people at VIVA House; I knew I was reading an answere to a holiday prayer. How do I make a difference in a real way?
For weeks now, I have been driving around in an attempt to collect socks and $1.00 hand lotion specials everywhere I went. I hoard $1 bills. and plastic water bottles and paperback books. I buy granola bars by the box when I can so that when I drive down the street, I don’t have to pass an obviously needy person without reaching out to them in some way. And this year and on this cold rainy day, I cannot imagine how difficult it is to find food and warmth.
After reading this request, I understood that far smarter and more dedicated people were on task. They have come up with a list of exactly what they need. The list makes sense and it is doable for some of us. I filled the list with extra large sizes when I could and it came to exactly $ 60.00.
I think that this list is a good thing for us all to keep somewhere in our kitchen. For whenever that urge to do something hits us. Or when we have received an act of kindness- it’s a good way to pass it on. For the holidays, I cannot think of a better gift for that person “who has everything”.
All that being said, it is not the easiest thing to assemble and lug around. So, I am going to do it for you if you wish. Which really means that I am going to have my daughter do it. (and yes Spider too!) So if this idea strikes you as a meaningful addition to your holidays. Click here and I will get it done for you.
If you’re interested in doing this for yourself or with your children, here’s what goes into each food bag. Please assemble the ingredients
in one of those large, sturdy, reusable bags that virtually every store sells for a dollar. The
people who stand in line for a food bag need to get it home safely.
Contents: (when possible, plastic jars are less prone to breakage)
1 box low sugar cereal (such as Cheerios)
1 jar jelly or jam
1 jar peanut butter
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 lb. spaghetti
1 can vegetable
2 cans meat
2 cans soup
2 cans pork & beans
2 boxes of macaroni & cheese
carton of unsweetened applesauce (the 6 individual cups packs are nice)
1 tube toothpaste
1 roll toilet paper (the individually paper wrapped brands – such as Scott or 7th Generation)
Viva House, Baltimore Catholic Worker
26 S Mount St
Baltimore MD 21223
Catholic Workers live a simple lifestyle in community, serve the poor, and resist war and social injustice. Most are grounded in the Gospel, prayer, and the Catholic faith, although some houses on this list state that they are interfaith.
Income for Catholic Worker houses can come from outside jobs held by members or by cottage industries developed by the community, but most houses survive on donations. Every Catholic Worker house can use donations of money and/or specific items like food, clothing, etc…Most can also use volunteers from the surrounding community to help with the work. If you feel called to do something about poverty and homelessness in your community, your local Catholic Worker house would be a great place to start.
1998 was the 30th anniversary of Viva House. Our community works an inner city soup kitchen at the house. There are an average of 270 people per meal. We have a food pantry and distribute about 8 tons of food per year.We also offer legal services at the Sowebo Center for Justice (Sowebo is Southwest Baltimore). The law office is located at Viva House and offers services to our neighbors.This year we are beginning an after school program for neighborhood children. We also run a summr camp. Currently live-in community members: Willa Bickham, Brendan Walsh, Dave Walsh-Little, and Kate Walsh-Little.Consider contacting the Viva House, Baltimore Catholic Worker to volunteer your time or to participate in their community life.
For More Information about VIVA House: http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=3314
For Photos of VIVA House: http://marcsteinerblog.wordpress.com/2008/03/05/3608-the-wire-podcasts-viva-house/