It wouldn’t be Saturday morning without Karen

Karen passes out baked goods at a One Generation Away mobile food pantry distribution in Waverly, Tennessee, with her grandchildren
Karen passes out baked goods at a food distribution in Waverly, Tennessee, with her grandchildren.
Photo by Kris Orlowski

“It’s like a family here. And Saturdays aren’t right if we’re not getting up early and going to a giveaway.”

If you’ve volunteered at a distribution, you’ve probably seen Karen volunteering with her grandkids. Watching her at work, she looks like the person you go to in order to figure out what’s what, and you wouldn’t be wrong. After five years of volunteering at pretty much every distribution, she knows the entire operation forwards and backwards.

Karen said, at her first distribution, she didn’t want to stand in line, so she spent the morning volunteering and then took some things home for herself and her family.

“Then I brought my grandkids because I’m big on volunteering, and I made sure that they were too. And we’ve been doing it ever since.”

Everybody needs help every now and then. We’re all in this world together

– Karen

The boys like being on trash duty, as they get to spend the morning stomping on cardboard. The older girls help manage the distribution stations. The youngest — 8 years old — is a free spirit, hopping from task to task as different things strike her fancy.

Somehow, Karen manages to volunteer herself while keeping an eye on them. Must be some kind of superpower you get when you graduate to grandparent status.

In any case, Karen has been a linchpin in our volunteer force. Always kind. Always dedicated. Always thoughtful. She often offers extra food to others in her community.

“Usually, when I get home, then I start calling people and say, ‘OK, come over here and get some.’”

She shared that she loves volunteering at OneGenAway’s distributions because of our mission to give away food with no questions asked.

“I’ve worked other giveaways, and they ask all these questions: ‘We want you to fill out all this paperwork,’” she explained. “It’s bad enough if you’ve got to come, but then when you have to fill out all the paperwork too … There’s no questions here.”

Karen has a gift that allows her to really see people and to understand that we are all part of a whole, responsible to one another, and that more often than not, we need each other’s help.

“Say, you’ve got a good job. It may be that you were out with COVID or something, and you didn’t get to work, and you’re driving this big, nice car and everything, but you still have a need,” she said. “Everybody needs help every now and then. We’re all in this world together.”