Volunteering has always been very important to my family. And while the Heidegger family is not known for many traditions, one of the few that we have, and one that I always looked forward to from a very young age, was volunteering at Project Angel Food, a nonprofit organization in Los Angeles that prepares and delivers healthy meals to feed people impacted by serious illness, and has served over 14 million meals since its founding in 1989.
I have many impactful and memorable recollections of our experiences with this important organization. While my family has been involved with Project Angel Food since the early nineties, when it was operating out of a small kitchen in an old community church near Hollywood. My own memories start much later, as a child, and at their current location on Vine. Most charitable organizations do not create opportunities for children to volunteer, but Project Angel Food has always encouraged volunteerism as an activity for the entire family. I recall many fun afternoons as a youth, decorating cards and placemats that each Project Angel Food client would receive with their meals. My brother and I used to sit for hours with our crayons and paper creating as many place mats as we could while our mother, father and older sister helped to prepare the food in the organization’s kitchen, since we were too young to offer our services in a culinary capacity!
The memories that have stayed with me the most, however, come from our wonderful and sometimes heart-wrenching, touching or funny interactions with the many fascinating, kind and lovely clients whom Project Angel Food serves – and sometimes we would get to see the same ones on our visits over the years! Through such personal interactions, we have been privileged to hear many life stories that ought to be great films, met an extraordinary artist and his pet iguana, and even spoke and laughed with one fabulous gentleman who thought that my mom was Cher (she loved that!).
Because many of those served by Project Angel Food may be home-bound and rely on these meals for their entire sustenance, they often cherish not just the food, but the human interactions, too, as that may be the only human contact they receive. For a volunteer or full-time employee, it is not just about making and delivering meals, but also providing care, kindness, and hope as well. And while as volunteers we only went on specific days to give the full-time staff a day off, many people we spoke with would share with us how the staff members had become like family.
These memorable experiences not only instilled in me how powerful and profound volunteering can be, but really showed me first-hand how even a small act of kindness can truly make someone else’s day and so positively affect the lives of others. The wonderful staff at Project Angel Food are so inspiring in their selfless dedication to others, and the beautiful connections that they nurture are unparalleled. Project Angel Food and its dedicated volunteers and staff go above and beyond in their service to those in need, and we are honored and proud to support them.
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