Today’s the day: Thanksgiving. 40th birthday. And the end of my Feed 40×40 appeal to friends and family.
We’ll eat turkey and pie. And I’m anticipating that someone, at some point in the day, will sing Happy Birthday. But that third thing — the crazy Feed 40×40 thing — well, that’s not as straightforward. It’s going to take that one awhile to sink in.
Fortunately for today, the numbers are pretty straightforward. You’ll remember, I asked my friends, family and followers to pitch in and collectively donate a total of 1,600 items+dollars to local food pantries before my birthday on Nov. 26. I had my doubts about reaching the goal just 10 days ago. But we did it. And then we did it three more times. That’s right, the total (which is still creeping up as I write) is more than 6,400. That’s 40×40, times 4.
And based on the forms that were completed, by more than 80 (!) individuals, this generosity helped feed hungry families in 12 (!) states. Kansas. Missouri. Ohio. Texas. New York. North Carolina. South Carolina. Arizona. Colorado. Wisconsin. Utah. And Minnesota. Wow.
Donations have come in all sizes and shapes. (And they’re still trickling in, so if you want to include yours in the final count, please fill out my form right now!) From small cash gifts to large, orchestrated food drives in schools and offices, every single person who said I’m in! helped make an enormous difference.
I could go on and on about what this has meant to me — having my birthday wish come true and hearing from friends and strangers alike, telling me about the kind and generous gifts they gave others for my birthday. (My social media notifications with photos of food donations left me speechless, day after day, after day.)
But rather than chatter on about how genuinely humbling and inspirational this campaign has been to me, I want to point out what it’s done for people in need. Here’s what a friend of mine shared on her Facebook post, when she made her donation:
Growing up, I distinctly remember coming home with my mom and siblings one night to a paper bag of groceries left on the front porch by someone who knew we needed them.
That one gesture of kindness has reminded me time and time again to be grateful for everything. Each time I donate, I have the honor of being that paper sack for someone else. The needs are so great that I sometimes feel that I can never give enough to change anything. But then I remember that even in one bag of food there is something else. Hope.
So, to all of you who said yes to Feed 40×40: This is what we did. Yes, we reached a goal and made my 40th birthday wish come true. But what really mattered? We delivered hope. And that, my friends, is what makes me most thankful.