Charlie O’Reilly: Stories of hunger help us understand the need
As supporters of Ozarks Food Harvest, we know about the urgent and daily needs of the people in our community who struggle with hunger. It’s heartbreaking and oftentimes unimaginable. For those of us who don’t have to make hard choices between paying for food and other basic necessities, understanding what this might feel like can be difficult.
The challenges facing the one in five kids and one in seven adults struggling with hunger seem distant, but in reality, these problems are right in our own backyard and truly could happen to any of us with just a slight change of circumstances.
This summer we met Kimberly, a single mother raising three children right here in Springfield.
She shared with the staff at Ozarks Food Harvest that a few years ago, she and her children fled an abusive relationship with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
“It was difficult, starting over – but I didn’t know things were about to get even worse,” Kimberly said.
“After we moved in, my mom lost her job due to illness. I can’t work because daycare is too expensive and my youngest is not yet in school. So we all moved in with my sister and live with her now. There are eight of us in the household. When we each contribute a little we can get by.”
Thankfully, Ozarks Food Harvest and its network of 270 pantries and programs all across southwest Missouri stand ready to help families just like Kimberly’s.
“I’m not sure we could make it work though without the help of the food pantry. It has been a God send. Everyone there is absolutely amazing; they are big-hearted, super caring and make you feel at home. They don’t make you feel ashamed to ask for help. The food pantry has helped us put food on the table and ensure that my children eat.”
Food pantries are able to feed kids, families and seniors all across the Ozarks because of people like you and your generosity.
Kimberly shared that her youngest son started kindergarten this month which means she can start working full time.
“There are better days ahead. In the meantime I want to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to the food pantry for helping us get there.”
Stories like Kimberly’s not only help us understand the challenges of worrying if you’ll have something to eat, it also shows in a very tangible way what it means when you hear that your support is giving hope to people in need.
It’s clear to me that the key to understanding is taking the time to listen to someone’s story.
Thank you for being a part of the mission to solve hunger in the Ozarks. I would encourage you to share this story and help us spread the word and raise support and understanding about our neighbors in need.
Charlie O’Reilly is the vice-chair of O’Reilly Automotive’s Board of Directors, a hunger-relief advocate and supporter of Ozarks Food Harvest.