We all have different reasons for stocking our pantry, but one of the most compelling reasons is so that we can be instantly ready to help someone in need or make someone’s day a little brighter. A well stocked pantry will make it possible to bless others with food, without breaking the already-overextended budget. Today I’m going to share with you some simple ways I have been able to use what’s in my pantry as a tool to bless the people around me.
But first, a story…
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Seven or eight years ago I bought a baby carrier from a lady on Facebook Marketplace. She lived in my teeny tiny town of only 800 people and after just a few minutes with her I knew I had met a kindred spirit and we agreed to stay in touch. She was a young mom with a preschooler, a toddler and she was newly pregnant. Her husband worked a lot and her family lived out of state. I had an inkling that she was alone a lot and probably lonely.
A few days after I met her, she suffered a miscarriage. I felt so sad for her loss and I wanted to do something, but how do you make it better when someone has lost a child? I thought and thought about it. I didn’t know her well enough to know what she needed, but I knew she probably didn’t feel well physically, she was grieving, and she had two young children who were still going to need her to meet their needs. Maybe she didn’t feel like eating, but they would be hungry.
Our little town was really far from a grocery store, so I had to just grab a package of spaghetti from the dollar store, a couple of jars of homemade spaghetti sauce that I had canned a few months earlier, put some lettuce in a bag and some homemade salad dressing in a container and put it all in a cardboard box. It wasn’t fancy or glamorous, but it would feed her kids and maybe let her get an extra nap.
I drove it all over to her house.
“Hi. I’m sorry about your baby. I thought this might make dinner tonight a little easier.” And I unceremoniously thrust this cardboard box with dollar-store-pasta-and-fixings at her and went home. And then I never thought about it again… until about a year ago.
She’s moved across the country now, but a year ago we were visiting and she said, “Do you remember bringing me that spaghetti? You were the only person who acknowledged that baby and did something to help and it meant so much to me.”
The fact is, I barely remember taking that meal to her. I can’t even remember if I cooked the spaghetti first, or just gave it to her in the package. Did I remember to include paper plates? I’m not sure. But she remembered it all these years later. God used that simple meal to make her feel loved and remembered in her time of pain and grief.
(After this, I started keeping equal amounts of pasta and sauce in my pantry for just such an opportunity.)
As the holiday season approaches, I want to challenge you to look around your community and find people to bless. You can do something small every day, or once a week, or do something big once a month… There are no right and wrong answers here! This does not have to cost a lot of money. For many of us, the whole reason we keep a well stocked pantry is to save money. This challenge is going to allow your pantry to become a tool to help make the world – your world – a better place.
Be sure to come join the Pantry Insider Community on Facebook where other women are joining in the Bless Your World Pantry Challenge, too!
3 Simple Ways
There are 3 ways to use your pantry to bless the people around you.
- Bake Treats to Give away – or don’t bake them, buy store bought cookies instead! Don’t be a perfectionist! Do you really think anyone is going to complain? They’re not going to say a word, because we never met a cookie we didn’t like.
- Prepare a Meal To Take To Someone – or, if you’re already cooking for a family anyway, just make a little extra and share your leftovers! My sister-in-law says that “the little amount of leftover dinner that won’t be enough for another meal for our family (and that the kids will end up fighting over)” … can last her for 4 meals! Score!
- Invite People Over to Share a Meal With You. Sometimes just your companionship means more than the food and a well stocked pantry will help you be more spontaneous in your hospitality. It doesn’t have to be a fancy meal. A pot of soup or even a bowl of popcorn can bless a guest.
Which approach you choose will depend on the person and the circumstances, but having a well stocked pantry will allow you to quickly and easy reach in to your cupboard and meet people in their moment of need.
Who Needs To Be Blessed?
When we think of helping “the needy” or “the less fortunate,” it’s easy to think about people who are struggling financially… and we definitely should help those people! But sometimes people who need encouragement have money, but they’re struggling with other issues. Here are some people who you can reach out to:
- veterans – send them goodie packages overseas, share treats when they’re home, and while they’re deployed don’t forget about their families here at home!
- A widow or widower
- someone who is grieving
- someone who has recently had a miscarriage or stillbirth
- Single Moms, Single Dads, Grandparents raising their grandchildren
- People who serve you in various ways: the mail carrier, a store clerk you see often, librarian, garbage truck driver, crossing guards
- Teachers and Other School Staff (don’t forget the custodian and the bus driver!)
- Your Pastor and His Family
- A family with a special needs child
- A family who is caring for an ailing grandparent
- An old friend or acquaintance you’d like to reconnect with
- A grouchy person!
- A college student with no family around
- Someone new to your town/workplace/church/neighborhood/etc.
- Someone who might be lonely
- Someone struggling with chronic health issues or an illness in the family
- Someone who has been laid off
- Someone who is estranged from their family
- Someone who is under a lot of stress
- etc, etc, etc. The sky’s the limit!
Almost everyone we meet is struggling with something. We must see past what it seems, and invite people to step into our lives and connect with us… truly connect soul to soul and lighten each other’s burdens, even if it’s just a little. And for some reason, that connection seems to come most easily when we have food in our outstretched hands. Be generous in your encouragement and allow your pantry to be an entering gate into deeper relationships.
In the spirit of holiday giving and making the world a better place, I have teamed up with some pretty generous bloggers for the 7th annual Christmas Blessings Giveaway! Our hope is to make this a Christmas to remember for TWO families.
While we wish we could bless many more families, we were able to come up with a big prize for TWO families – $500 each (delivered via Pay Pal) – that we pray will make a big difference in their lives this Christmas season – whether it’s to fulfill their kids’ Christmas wishes, pay off some bills, help build some savings, or help stock your pantry for the new year, our prayer is that it helps to lessen any financial burden and/or fills a specific need.
There are lots of entry options in the Rafflecopter form below – the more you enter, the better your chance of winning! I know it can seem tedious and time consuming to go through all the entries, but isn’t a chance at $500 worth it? I think it is! Plus, all of these amazing bloggers donated their own money toward the cash prizes, so this giveaway wouldn’t be possible without them. I hope you’ll take the time to check out each one. Who knows, maybe you will find some new blogs to follow.
The giveaway will run from Monday, November 16th through Wednesday, November 25th (ends at 11:59pm EST). Winner will be notified by email shortly after the giveaway ends and will have 48 hours to respond to claim the prize or another winner will be drawn. You must have a Paypal account to win. By entering this giveaway, you agree to be added to the email lists of the participating bloggers. Please be sure to read the Rafflecopter terms and conditions upon entering.