A “Run” Before Dawn

If you do not volunteer for Community Plates, you may not understand why I’ve put “run” in quotation marks.  A “run” is the act of picking up food from restaurants, schools and grocery stores and delivering it to a shelter or pantry.

When I was writing the ‘Let’s Get Social’ blog post, I noticed one volunteer, Chris, had “adopted” (adopted is a volunteer who takes on a scheduled run week-after-week) the Friday 5:45 a.m. run to pick-up produce at Rubin Brothers Produce in the Bronx to drop-off at the East End Community Center in Bridgeport.  As a foodie, I was fascinated by a run that traveled to a produce wholesaler, but admit I was more intrigued by the person who would want to adopt this kind of run.

I’m not a morning person.  I’m especially not a morning person in the winter.  Getting up from underneath the down comforter to bump into a wall because it’s still dark out is not my idea of fun.  I’ve done it in the past when I used to commute 90 miles one-way to work — or when I was a kid to watch my dad coach ice-hockey.  In those cases, I only got up at unseemly hours because it benefited me.

Chris gets up for someone else.  He gets up to help others he has never met, or probably will never meet.  He’s not getting up to go to his son’s ice hockey practice, work, or train for a marathon (he may be training for one, but we didn’t discuss that).  He’s helping complete strangers who can’t provide food for themselves before he even starts his day at the office.

Because I was curious, I think I may have asked more questions than any one person should have to answer that early in the a.m., but he answered every one of them.  I found out he read about Community Plates in a newspaper article and began volunteering his time right away.  He was looking for an organization where his contribution would make an immediate impact – and it does.  I saw firsthand how dropping off crates of fresh produce can put a smile on someone’s face.

During our ride, we talked about various topics, and I learned how Chris has lived in several areas of the country before moving here to Fairfield County.  It was when we were talking about his move that something he said struck a chord with me.  He reminded me of how Fairfield County, aka the Gold Coast of Connecticut, has an interesting demographic.  For instance, Greenwich has some of the wealthiest people in the nation, and the next town over, Stamford, has several food pantries and shelters that serve thousands of people in significant need.  Having grown up in the area, I’ve never really thought too much about this.  I guess I assumed most metropolitan areas are similar, but learned from his experiences how this is something of an anomaly. With so much abundance in the area he said volunteering for Community Plates keeps things in perspective and grounds him in his very busy and blessed life.

I did pose the question of “why this run”?   He told me he grew up in Queens, knew where he was going, knew there was no real traffic on the way down at that time of morning and knew he would definitely make a difference with this run.

Would I do this run again?  Yes.  But under the condition Chris drives again.  I really didn’t know what to expect when I signed up to tag along, but I met a person who is interesting, excited about what Community Plates is accomplishing and reminded me of how one person’s selfless actions can have such a positive impact on so many others.