|Grocery Shopping for the Community|
By Lara Krupicka
I pushed my cart out of the check-out lane and looked down at the receipt: “Total Savings: $48.23.” My eyes scanned for the total paid: $3.80. I had saved over 90 percent! I gave a silent cheer. Then I looked at the bags in my car that contained boxes of cereal, pudding and bottles of vegetable oil. There was little in my cart that I planned to keep for myself — an even greater accomplishment. Learning to look outward while shopping for groceries has turned a passion for saving into compassion for the needs of other moms in my community.
A lifelong thrift diva, I only recently learned the secrets of big savings at the grocery store. Armed with this knowledge, I became a bargain-shopping crusader. However, I only briefly considered how this new skill could translate into acts of compassion. Although I put aside a bag for the food pantry each month, it lacked heart. Then one day a friend pointed out the growing needs of people around me.
“You should help those families you know. There are a lot of our friends in tight situations,” she said. Her words stung. I thought about what she had said for days. The realization that I distanced myself from real people’s needs by giving to the food pantry hit me. I had insulated my heart from feeling for hurting families. Giving groceries to those in my immediate community brought it closer to home … and closer to my heart.
I decided to give her suggestion a try. I took several bags of groceries to a woman in our church who distributed them to those in need. I watched as she looked inside. Suddenly, my offerings seemed meager and inappropriate. There were cans of soup and tubes of toothpaste — not bad things. But the boxes of fruit chews and some other non-nutritious items embarrassed me. Those wouldn’t provide nourishment for a hungry family.
The woman grabbed the box of fruit chews I was agonizing over and said. “I know one family who will be so glad to get these!”
“Really?” I asked.
“You bet. They don’t get these treats too often anymore.”
I returned to my grocery shopping that month with a renewed resolve. It felt great to be saving money at the register. But seeing how I could make a difference in the lives of other moms with my deal-finding ability changed my focus and gave my shopping purpose.
Grocery shopping thrift no longer centers on me, it also involves working for the good of those around me. I’ve learned compassion by seeing the challenges other moms face in a tight economy. And I’ve learned how to be a better part of my community through sharing my groceries.
Lara Krupicka is the mother of three girls, ages 10, 8 and 5. Her book, Pampering Gifts, was published in 2007 (pamperinggiftsbook.com).