N.E. Spokane Food Distributions Show Community in Action
A simple, but moving scene unfolded on a recent weekday in Northeast Spokane.
A large delivery truck arrived in the parking lot of Arlington Elementary and backed up to an awaiting designated loading area. The volunteer driver popped out and rolled up the rear cargo door as a group of volunteers jumped into action to assist.
Then, for the next hour, they all worked in sync to distribute more than 150 fresh-and-frozen meals to neighborhood residents.
Like clockwork, a procession of cars passed through the school’s parking lot. As each one stopped near the back of the truck, the volunteers cheerfully greeted drivers, selected a bag of fresh fruit and a box of fresh/frozen foods, placed it in the vehicle, then said goodbye.
The weekly event is a picture of what community in action looks like. The group distributing the food represented 2nd Harvest, St. Aloysius Catholic Church, Gonzaga Prep, and Gonzaga University. It is extraordinary, and it has become reassuringly regular during COVID-19.
Gonzaga staff, faculty and an alumnus are among the regular weekly volunteers at Arlington. Similar distributions happen weekly across Spokane, including several in Northeast Spokane. On this day, GU is represented by an alumnus, two staff members, and a faculty member.
They are getting back much more than they are putting in – they smile and share glances with each other in the moments between their spontaneous ballet.
“It’s been a really meaningful experience to be able to be there each week and connect with residents,” said Bailley Wootton of Gonzaga’s Center for Community Engagement. “I’ve really enjoyed getting to work alongside different community members. All in all, it’s a great group of people.”
It's clear that connections are being made and neighborhood residents’ cups are also filled. It’s the little moments that bring that concept to life.
“One week, a community member opened up the back of his pickup so that we could load a few boxes of food into his truck. As we were getting the food, he took out big jars of honey that he had harvested and gave them to us,” Wootton said. “It was such a generous and kind gesture. It reminded me that we all have different gifts to bring to the table, as well as needs. That's the beauty of reciprocity in community work.”