After all the preparation and stress, the cold, overcast November day finally arrived. With the community dinner I had been planning for two months about to take place, I strained my brain, going back over every detail. Had I thought of everything? Would there be enough food to serve everyone who showed up? Were the volunteers from the Junior High Student Council sufficiently briefed? Did the elementary students performing in the play have enough rehearsal time? After consulting with my friend and co-worker, Terry, I was pretty sure I covered all the bases, but I still couldn't seem to shake the feeling that I was forgetting something!
The local newspaper and radio stations were notified, invitations were sent out, the dinner was posted on the school website and Facebook page, and all the reader boards advertised the event. I put up flyers on every bulletin board and even stopped by all the businesses in town to invite them personally! And the community really stepped up to the plate on this one! Stein's Market provided most of the food and the principal of the elementary school picked up the rest. The Farm to Market store and Rosauer's Market in Libby even got into the act by donating the paper products and the salad dressing. Then, there were the gift certificates for the door prize drawing from the various businesses around town (6 of them in all), the costumes loaned to us from Uptown Video and the handmade quilted place mats contributed by the nice lady at Real Art Works. After receiving all these terrific donations and inviting the communities of both Troy and Libby, I couldn't let this dinner flop!
So, there I was, standing in the midst of all the chaos, the young kids in the play, without any real direction at this point, carried on loudly around me (some trying to get into costume, while others just ran amok) and the older students from the council looked around not really knowing what to do. Feeling a bit sick to my stomach, I wondered how was I going to pull this off! About that time, Kay (the school librarian and the director of the student council) walked in and immediately began giving orders. Thanks to her take-charge approach, everyone went into action.
When the smoke cleared and last of the guests filed out of the building, a tall man in a rumpled work shirt approached me. He was flanked on each side by a little girl in a green checkered dress and a reddish brown haired toddler with his thumb in his mouth. As he came closer, I could see the apprehension on his face. After taking a moment to build up his courage, he began to speak. He told me that he and his family had been going from church to church in an effort to get enough food to make it through the month, and with tears welling up in his eyes he added, "This dinner was such a blessing to us. Will you be doing this again soon?" At that moment I realized the real significance of what No Kid Hungry is doing here in this little community and the importance of keeping it going!