It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, not that one. The other most wonderful time of the year. When morning greets us with a chill in the air, northern Nevada is abuzz with weekends filled with one great event after another, and pumpkin flavored everything is about to be in high demand. Best of all, it’s Hunger Action Month – a month filled with raising awareness for the 1 in 6 neighbors in our community, our nation, who struggles each day with hunger.
Few things light me up quite like sharing my passion for the fight against hunger, but having the opportunity to see others’ passion for it is truly the most incredible feeling. It’s the reason that I love Hunger Action Month so, so much. There are so many great, fun ways to get involved with the Food Bank of Northern Nevada and the fight against hunger each September. You can check out all of this year’s happenings on our Hunger Action Month page. Over the years, I’ve done most of it. In fact, my closet contains more orange than you might expect from someone who recognizes it isn’t her color. Even my husband and son have seen it start to trickle into their wardrobes. Every year for Hunger Action Day, I dig into the orange section for something to wear and challenge my friends and family to do the same. I’ve attended events, volunteered, and filled social media with posts and photos about hunger in our community. I’ve been brought to tears with pride and gratitude as friends, family, and Food Bank supporters have shared with me all of the ways in which they, too, are getting involved and making a difference.
But the thing I look back on with the most excitement and pride happened last year, when the Dear World project visited the Biggest Little City on Hunger Action Day. As my Facebook Newsfeed started to fill with images of friends who were taking part in this amazing photo project, I became eager to join in. Lucky for me, my co-worker, Angie, was up for heading out for an adventure with me. Standing among a crowd of people at the Joe Crowley Student Union, we were awe struck by the beauty and power in the messages being scrawled on skin in black marker. As we posed for our picture, I thought back to the kind stranger who first taught me the difference that a small, thoughtful gesture can have on another and was again moved to tears.
Together we can solve hunger. It isn’t just a tagline. It’s something that I truly believe. Something that I’ve seen, and experienced, first-hand. On behalf of all of my co-workers, THANK YOU for sharing your passion with us throughout Hunger Action Month, and all year long.
I grew up in a house where there often wasn’t enough to eat. Fresh fruit and vegetables were a rare treat, while inexpensive meals that would stretch through several days of leftovers were staples. One of my strongest memories from my childhood is of standing in the produce section of a grocery store, tears streaming down my mother’s face while I pleaded with her to buy us some strawberries. More tears fell as we walked out of the store a short time later and a woman approached my mom with a shopping bag in her hand and kind smile on her face.
I didn’t understand that day the expression that came over my mother’s face as she looked in the bag to find two containers of plump, bright red strawberries, but as I got a little older I would come to recognize it to be a tug of war of emotions…shame for needing help…gratitude for those who provide it. Over the years, I became all too familiar with that tug of war. When friends’ parents would invite me for dinner, I would silently celebrate their thoughtfulness while trying to swallow past the lump of embarrassment in my throat.
I’ve often thought back to that bright, smiling stranger. In the middle of a parking lot in small-town MN, she taught a little girl an invaluable lesson about compassion. I moved past that shame and embarrassment a long time ago, but the gratitude for that woman, and the many other kind people like her who have touched my life, has stayed deeply ingrained within me. I carry her with me every day in my work at the Food Bank of Northern Nevada. As I lock eyes with our clients, I hope to share a piece of her thoughtfulness with them, to leave them with the reminder that there are good, kind people in this world who want to help.
I truly believe that we can solve hunger together. When we band together to take action, something as small as a sweet strawberry can be the first step in making a big difference for so many in our community.
Aramelle Wheeler is the Marketing & Communications Coordinator at the Food Bank of Northern Nevada. Aramelle joined the Food Bank in 2012 and is proud to be part of the fight against hunger in our community. Aramelle grew up in a family that often struggled with not having enough food and considers it an honor to be able to help other families like hers. She loves social media and really loves it when Food Bank friends share their hunger fighting fun with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.