In my last post, I touched very briefly on how you can use a volunteer opportunity as story research.
Whether on purpose (as one of my co-workers suggested) or as a “happy accident,” I found an excellent example of show-don’t-tell from that very same volunteer opportunity.
Before our department volunteer excursion, we received an email with basic instructions: show up on time, no open toed shoes (not a problem in Chicago in January, even though it was way warmer than any of us expected)…and please bring a can to donate.
I always feel bad when asked to donate one can. I stand in front of my cabinet or the shelf in the grocery store and think “shouldn’t I bring two? or three?” In the end, I brought the required one can and put it in the donation barrels in the volunteer waiting area.
Even though I only brought one, I still had a sense of doing good. And then we entered that giant warehouse. And then we packed 10,000 cans. Suddenly my single can didn’t feel as useful.
I know that the Greater Chicago Food Depository appreciates all donations and wouldn’t want me to slink away and feel ashamed or embarrassed by my contribution. But seeing the vastness of palletted food waiting to be shipped to food pantries and soup kitchens and labeling so many cans myself certainly showed me the magnitude of what GCFD does…and the magnitude of the need that’s out there.
Has a real life experience ever stopped you in your tracks and made you think “that is an ingenious way to show X?”