Lee Ann is an introvert, and striking up a conversation with strangers does not come naturally.
“It definitely takes me outside my comfort zone,” she says.
But each month, Lee Ann and a few others stand outside ShopRite and ACME, talking to shoppers as they wheel their carts in. They hand each person a card, asking for food donations for In Jesus’ Name Charities and The Hoboken Shelter. These organizations support families in need right here in Hoboken.
When Lee Ann first moved here, she noticed that while there’s a lot of wealth in our area, there are also a lot of people who don’t always know where their next meal is coming from. She wanted to help those struggling in her own city. That’s what led her to join Hoboken Grace’s Donation Table Team a year and a half ago.
At first, Lee Ann expected it’d be awkward, or that she’d get pushback from some people. Most people are actually happy to help, she says. And after doing it a few times, she lost the sense that she was outside her comfort zone. Talking to shoppers now feels completely normal – even easy.
The grocery store customers have grown accustomed to the team, too. After four years of the team doing this, most shoppers have even come to expect them.
“A lot of people say, ‘Oh, yeah, I don’t need a card.’ And then they come out and give us what we need,” says Lee Ann. “We’re such a fixture at this point that everyone who shops during that time on that day knows.”
And shoppers are incredibly generous, she adds. One Saturday, the team collected enough donations to fill seven packed, overflowing shopping carts. It was so much food that the team had trouble transporting it to In Jesus’ Name Charities, near 4th and Clinton.
“It’s incredible to see how much we impact families here, in Hoboken,” Lee Ann says. “There are families who would go hungry at the end of the month if it wasn’t for that organization.”
Lee Ann says serving the organization has opened her eyes to how much need there is in the community, and how easy it can be to serve your neighbors. “My passion is really impacting the community where I live,” she says. “I think it’s fantastic when people go abroad and do amazing things, but I see such a need in our own community, and I can walk 10 minutes to help someone.”
Being a part of this team is also a great opportunity for families to serve together – kids are welcome to come learn about serving their neighbors. It’s a great project for them!
“It’s easy to think, ‘I can’t impact that person, there’s nothing I can do,’” Lee Ann says. “But this is a direct way to impact our city. It’s so easy and has such a massive impact on our community.”
Want to check out the Donation Tables Team? You can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info or to sign up.