For my first installment of volunteering with kids I visited Manna House. We volunteered on a Thursday night, the last night that Manna House serves before the weekend and the long line outside showed the need people are having in our local community.
We asked around and found Fran Fluhler, the seemingly inexhaustible director of Manna House. “Our mission is to love on those who are in need, helping in any way we can. People love to see the smiling faces of children helping out in the food line – it cheers their hearts. In our sometimes callous world people think that there are takers and givers and nothing in between, but we all need a little help sometimes.”
After a quick introduction we were put to our tasks for the evening. I have served in settings like this before and what I was struck with almost immediately was the respect and kindness that the workers at Manna House showed everyone. The mix of those there that were volunteering was wide and diverse from professionals to teenagers there for community service projects and those who need assistance themselves.
Our family worked along side a woman and daughter who had gotten there early to get some needed supplies and then they stayed and helped to work the line, but she was not the only one. In our sometimes callous world people think that there are takers and givers and nothing in between, but we all need a little help sometimes. While volunteering with Manna House I experienced respect and kindness for all.
If you’re interested in volunteering with your family at Manna House, here are some tips.
- Children need to be at least four years old. Manna House is a bustling place with long queues of people waiting for food and volunteers zipping around getting items to the right places. Children need to be able to stay with their parents.
- Talk to your kids beforehand. Depending on your families’ past volunteering, your kids may or may not be used to the type of environment they will be in. Explain that the food they are serving is for people who need it, because by nature of what is donated and where children are best served, a lot of sweets are served.
- Keep shift times reasonable. Fran is great about letting you show up and work as long as you want. Try just an hour for your first time with kids because there is a lot of standing.
- Know what to expect. For this visit, our family served perishables at the end of the line. My 7 year-old passed out bagels and other breads, my wife and 6 year-old passed out pieces of cake and cookies while I was running boxes of other goods around to the line. Mostly, we talked to people as they came through the line. We did a lot of smiling and chatting.
- Know all the ways to help. Manna House contact information is listed below. I think is a good idea to e-mail or call before coming down just to let them know you are coming in. Food line volunteer hours are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday between 2-7:30 p.m. with the food distribution starting at 4:00.
Not into serving food? You can see a complete list of programs that need your help here: All Manna House Programs. Got a busy schedule but still want to help? Talk to your kids about tithing, or set aside allowance money to donate. You can make a monetary gift here: Donate to Manna House.
How to Volunteer at Manna House
Manna House Website
E-Mail: Fran Fluhler, Director; email@example.com
Address: 2110 S. Memorial Parkway, Huntsville, AL 35801
Phone: 256-653-7883 or 256-503-4848
GPS-less Directions: Heading down North Parkway take the Bob Wallace exit. Take a right on Bob Wallace and then take a right at the second light (right next to Damson Honda). Follow this service road until it dead-ends in Manna House’s parking lot (directly behind The Rock Family Worship Center).
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Stephenie has worked with and around books and authors for over 12 years, both at retail booksellers and public libraries. She is a rare Huntsville native, mother of two high-energy boys, wife of one, and eerily addicted to community volunteering. When she's not being the Managing Editor for RCM she likes to stalk her favorite authors online, cook with way too much butter, and also manages to conduct freelance marketing and PR work.