Getting the food was an experience I don't ever care to repeat. I went into what looked very much like a grocery store, checked in at the desk, and filled my cart with the amount I needed, my Scandinavian skin burning the entire time. The workers there were gentle with me. I think they must have seen how uncomfortable I was.
I packed the hamburger, sausage, lettuce, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, flour, cheese, apples, bananas and oranges into the trunk of my car. I still remember every item. I felt an odd, pointed mix of shame and gratitude. When you get food from the storehouse, they offer to let you work there to pay it back, as much as it can be paid back. I knew that my work there would have to be done in the far future because, as a newly single working mother, barely out of the first trimester and still suffering from constant "morning" sickness, I had as many balls in the air as I could juggle. Rather more, actually, but I didn't want to look too closely at that for fear I'd drop the ones I had.
I stretched the two weeks of food out with some small purchases ($10 or $15/week!) of my own to last a month. By then, I received some unforeseen help, and gotten my feet under me again. Things were tight, but they were not imminent-starvation tight.
As I said, I hope to never have to do that again, to never have to be at a point where I have to worry about how to feed my children.
However, I now have a great deal more compassion for people on the street than I once did. It doesn't seem to matter to me any more whether they spend the money I give them on booze or on food. What matters is that I give. And when I don't have money to give them, I can at least look them in the eyes and smile. I can always give them respect. Even if they squandered their means foolishly, I can still empathize with where they are now. I only wish I could help them all.
Perhaps this is the beginning of charity. I don't think we can know God until we understand charity. Perhaps I was wrong. Maybe my experience, however difficult at the time, was more humbling than humiliating.
But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.