Monday evening I met up with fellow Clevelanders of OBA (Ohio Blogging Association) for another fun night of networking and this time giving back to the community. Previously, I attended my first OBA get together at Whole Foods back in January. This time around we gathered at the Cleveland Foodbank. If you want to read more about the Foodbank and any of the programs please visit their website or head on over to the fabulous Alicia’s blog Poise in Parma, where she has all the insider scoop.
For my post, let’s not worry about facts and figures, but what I experienced.
I arrived at the site a few minutes late (sorry) and found myself standing inside the glass doors, seeing people walking around deeper inside the building, but no one came over to greet me. Being nosey resourceful I took inventory of my surroundings and noticed a sign-in book. Guess what I did with it? Then I followed the sound of a video down a short hallway to a room around the corner. I should be a PI! I found the OBA people along with several other volunteers watching a video on what the Foodbank provides.
The video and subsequent “tour” were very helpful for me. Honestly, I’ve never done any volunteer work for an organization dealing with food. For all I knew we would be serving soup directly to people! The Cleveland Foodbank (from what I gathered) is like a middle man. They receive donations from stores or manufacturers or other places and people all over. They store the goods, but they also sort it into more logical sets. For example they may get kits of tuna, milk, soup and cookies. This may not work for every site, so they break it down. Then when a place orders 50lbs of soup, they don’t know the flavor, but they know it’s soup.
|Volunteers at the Cleveland Foodbank|
Another thing they do is break down bulk. Apparently last year OBA spent the night separating oranges into 6 pound bags from giant boxes. As fun as that sounds, we had a different project ahead of us.
We were a part of the task force creating bags for the backpack program. Essentially this is a program where children who are on the free/reduced meals plan also need food for the weekend. Enough food for 6 meals is package and sent home, the trick is it is sent in a backpack to help avoid the stigma of getting free food. Great, right?
|OBA and Kiwanis creating kits for hungry children|
Our group was paired with the Rocky River Kiwanis. I was one of the “line men” who took the plastic bag and filled it with a set number of each item. What types of items? Canned corn, canned soup, boxes of milk (like juice boxes) cereal and other goodies. Other team members kept our stock fully supplied, broke down boxes, or tied the bags at the end and packed them into other boxes and crates. When all was said and done, our group created about 540 kits! Our service is invaluable as the need for food in NEO has increased DRASTICALLY over the last year! Without our help the Foodbank would have to hire people to keep up with the requests. Paid employees means reduced money allocated to get the stuff people in need require.
|Yours truly with one of the packaged kits|
I always try to donate money and items to charity when forms come around, but actually using my time to give back was a whole different level of rewarding. Honestly, I am considering returning even on my own to do volunteer work for this organization again. The people were welcoming and friendly, the work was not overtaxing, I felt appreciated and I knew what I was doing was going directly to a great cause.
For the blogger aspect of things, I found being on our feet helped everyone mingle more than sitting around eating. I was able to meet life, cooking, fashion and events bloggers. I was able to put faces with names and also learn what “pays the bills” for some of these bloggers. Knowing I’m not the only one who has to work or maintain a life outside of blogging keeps it in perspective. Everyone joking around at the end on how our families don’t understand blogging or when a stranger will mock us and say “Do you know anything about social media”? (Ummm just a LITTLE) was a riot as well. When I find out some of my favorite bloggers have the same issues, joys, insecurities and other processes I do, it makes the world feel that much closer. Hands down the best part was talking with people and talking about OTHER bloggers and their programs, (as if we’re in on some grand secret) like Tina and her personal training, or Lindsay and FoodiePenPals!
Who all was there representing OBA?
- Alicia from Poise in Parma
- Aja from CLE Creativity +
- Crystal from Eat Drink Cleveland
- Jen from Why CLE?
- John from @jobjr
- Kimberly from SMITTEN…in cleveland
- Lane from Lane Baldwin Photography
- Lyn from Life Lyn Style
- Reanna from Big Shot Dot The I
- Sarah from Cooker Girl
|Thanks Lyn for the picture of everyone!|
Interested in attending an Ohio Blogging Association blogger meetup? Join us for our OBA April Cleveland Blogger Beer Tasting with The Brewer’s Daughter on Tuesday, April 17th. You can find more info over at our OBA Facebook event page. As always, bloggers and “blog supporters” are all welcome to attend!