What a week! From a local barber shop making a difference passing out free book bags to the community to the Lake Area United Way Packa Palooza event at the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana! It warms the heart to see people all working to help each other. And frankly, with the current political climate it is great to see that people really just want to help each other and get along!
Each year now, for about the past 4 years, I am honored to provide photography services for the Lake Area United Way event named Packa Palooza, a wonderful event that gathers between 200 to 300 volunteers that in 2 to 3 hours provide hundreds of meals for the less fortunate in our community.
In past years, the event packed meal kits like macaroni and cheese or instant oatmeal packs using the raw ingredients, so the finished product was a complete meal. This year, United Way partnered with the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana, located in Merrillville, to pack complete food boxes for 1,000 local families.
Two different boxes were packed this year. One box contained staple dry groceries like peanut butter, canned soup, vegetables, pasta, sauce and rice. Staples that can sustain a family of 4 for a week! The other food box this year was a box of fresh produce which is difficult to not only afford but find in areas where hunger is prevalent. Fresh potatoes, apples, sweet corn, plums, onions and oranges were packed inside the food box.
I can attest to the need for fresh produce with hunger relief charities after working for Feeding America (Chicago) for a decade directing the national fresh produce program for a network of over 200 food banks across the country. Fresh produce is always in high demand and it has become the number one food category that the national charity distributes nationwide.
Watching 200 volunteers working together to provide food boxes was so exciting. Many area companies provide teams of workers to spend the half day together making a difference in the community. That is really what Lake Area United Way is all about… improving lives by mobilizing the caring power of our community to advance the common good.
Volunteers always have fun on Packa Palooza day while doing serious work to provide food to families across our region. I also have fun that day taking photos as the event from start to finish, is an absolute huge photo opportunity and everywhere I turn there is a great image worth capturing. People having run while making a difference! It really doesn’t get much better than that. -Rick Bella