Why I care about Free the Need -
For the past 16 years, I have enjoyed contributing to the cause and the people of Free The Need almost every day. When I first met these wonderful people in 1994 I was struck by how they had created this organization that does so much good, does it so well, and raises the quality of life of those being served as well as of its volunteers.
My first experience with Free the Need was a Thanksgiving food giveaway. I remember going to the Bayview neighborhood and joining a friendly, spirited group of volunteers made up of half Bayview residents and half people from other places in San Francisco and Oakland. Everyone was friendly and happy to be together helping to fill the 425 boxes with donated food to provide Thanksgiving dinners for as many families.
I went back again for the Christmas giveaway that year and was again blown away by the fact that this group, consisting of all these people of different races and backgrounds were together in this joyful but very organized oasis of relating and giving.
The boxes were filled with a whole plethora of staples, produce, bread, and holiday meat, loaded onto a big donated trailer truck, delivered to another place in the Bayview where they were given out to residents who knew we were coming. They knew because Free The Need had a food giveaway every Friday in the same spot.
Eventually, I started coming to volunteer at all the weekly giveaways, and have been doing so ever since.
It is a beautiful thing that a lot of the very same people who volunteered back in those early days including some of the Bayview and Mission residents are still showing up every week today. Some started out as food or clothing recipients. Then they started volunteering when they began to experience their own sense of having surplus, as in surplus time, energy, even possessions.
I remember the women from the Bayview who would come to food day and provide lunches that they had prepared at home for the other volunteers. Free the Need tends to blend imagined lines between giver and receiver, server and served. We all like to be together and feel the spirit of surplus. So "all-volunteer nonprofit dedicated to distributing surplus" is not just a slogan but an idea which lives on and keeps us moving on.
Imagine how much more you can enjoy the bounties and fortunes of your life when you know you are spreading that surplus to many people.