August 13th, 12:30 PM, the phone rings, it is my friend and colleague, Megan Robinson, from ONEHOPE Wine. “Hey, so we are doing this volunteer day and I want to connect you with our foundation director, Melissa Lake, about something really cool we have coming up.”  I say, "sure, we’re in" before even knowing what it is.  A couple of email introductions and exchanges and now we know what it is and we are DEFINITELY in. The ONEHOPE Foundation had been working with an organization called #HashTagLunchBag in arranging a volunteer day.  #HashtagLunchBag started with Ajay, just looking for a way to help while having some friends over one Christmas, subsequently making lunches and taking them to Skid Row. 

            These weren’t just any lunches, though.  Each sandwich was made with the same care and love in which one would make their own.  Each bag contained a handwritten note to brighten someone’s day.  Each bag contained a toothbrush and some basic hygiene supplies.  This was a different way of helping, this nourished not only someone’s belly, but their spirit and soul, too.  

            Once the volunteer day was arranged, we took the time to slow roast turkey, hand-slice tomatoes, clean and separate lettuce, just the way we do at home and for our clients.  Once it was prepared, we packed everything up into the Contemporary Catering van and headed down to ONEHOPE’s offices. We show up and there are almost 20 people there! Noshing on bagels someone had brought, wonderful music playing…this was gonna be a good day. After facilitating the most efficient, and fun way to assemble sandwiches, the action started. Our team in collaboration with theirs, and others that had come just to help, took turns placing tomatoes, laying down turkey… “who’s on bread!!!???” was exclaimed more than once.  Simply put, we all just had a blast, some wrote notes, some drew hearts on the lunch bags, some hand-wrapped sandwiches, people come together over food, even without eating it.

            With all the lunches assembled, we loaded them all into the van and headed out to Skid Row. Each grabbing a shopping bag to start, we found a parking spot and just started walking, stopping to have a conversation and wish people a good day, giving them a lunch bag with a heart and a hashtag on it, a handwritten note, a handcrafted sandwich and some hygiene supplies. We all left wondering who was helped the most, them, or us. Taking action, not just donating money, is a way we can lead by example; sometimes a smile and a note goes further than a buck and a burger. As we approach the holiday season, let’s all seek ways that we can bring joy into the lives of others.