When we pulled up, the house looked dark inside.
A few moments later, my son Mack and I were standing in front of the home; in our rubber-gloved hands were bags of food. Earlier in the week, Arm In Arm staff had called families to arrange grocery deliveries. Volunteers had filled bags bursting at the seams with canned fruits and veggies, cereal, peanut butter, pasta, meat, and more. That morning, we had packed our Jeep high with those bags and set off with a drop-off route of names, addresses and telephone numbers.
Mack and I developed a solid system: he rode shotgun, directing me with GPS on his phone until we found the street numbers we were searching for. If we could park, we would jump out, glove up, grab bags, hustle up the steps, knock at the door—then stand back, waiting for an answer. So far, we had been batting a thousand, with every delivery a success.
But at this home with dark windows, we got more than we expected. We knocked, dropped the bags on the porch, and were standing far back from the front door as planned, when from the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of a little hand push back the drapes in the front window…
And then there she was! A little girl with long jet black hair, staring at us from behind the big front window. The glass of the front window was a great protector, and a great connector: it gave us the gift of a safe closeness.
The little girl looked at us, then down at the bags, then back at us, strangers standing in front of her home. And then she smiled and waved at us. We smiled at her and waved back.
As our Jeep began to ease into the street, we saw the front door of that home that had given us so much light that day open and a little hand poke out to lift one of those bags.
As of March 25, Arm In Arm has gone to 100% mobile delivery. All other services continue to operate remotely, using electronic Zoom meetings, emails, phone, and conference calls. We have called nearly all of our clients to assess their needs and set up appointments to deliver food.
Through mobile food delivery, we are conducting bulk deliveries to apartment high rises, senior living complexes and more; we are also going door-to-door for individual drop-offs. Each delivery is done through a pre-arranged appointment and ‘drop, knock, and walk away’ technique to maintain social distancing.
Between March 16 – April 3, we will have served about 1,283 bags of food to 641 families—first from the front of our pantries with pre-packed bags for pick-up and now through mobile delivery drop-offs across Trenton and Princeton. We have already seen 30 additional families come to us in this time of need, and we expect this number continue growing. We are hard at work with other area agencies, supplementing their clients facing food insecurity. We will continue to do all we can to offer healthy food to those most vulnerable in our communities.
Already, we have exhausted our food purchase budget this fiscal year. This is why we remain ever grateful for the incredible response of partners, friends and people new to our mission. Your generosity is inspiring in this time of difficulty and uncertainty.
Our work cannot stop, must not stop; now more than ever, our mission to lighten the load of our neighbors is a critical one. We make one simple ask of you: please help, if you are able—
If you wish to volunteer, please call Shariq at 609-396-9355 x21 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you wish to bring food to our Princeton pantry, please call Cecelia at 609-921-2135 to arrange a drop-off date and time.
Stay safe, David