Glide church holds annual grocery giveaway

December 16, 2011 7:15:35 PM PST
Unemployment had more than a little to do with the scene outside of San Francisco's Glide Church on Friday.

Thousands of people lined up and waited for a grocery bag filled with food and in some cases there wasn't much difference between those who volunteered and those who stood in line.

"I waited here almost two hours," one person said.

In life, nobody sets out to spend time in a line like this one, and yet nobody complained outside of San Francisco's Glide Church.

"I was a bill collector," said Pamela Vanhevel, "but it's hard to collect on bills when people aren't working and people aren't paying their bills."

There were thousands of people and thousands of individual stories, but one common theme: Need.

"It's more (people) this year," said Rev. Cecil Williams. "You look at this -- you look at these lines."

For Williams, it must have been both gratifying and frightening to see people begin lining up yesterday. The procession zig-zagged through the street and around the block, while inside the church a small army of volunteers kept the reinforcements coming.

Each bag -- 5,500 of them --contained poultry, pasta and canned goods, and the bags weren't light.

"We found out that, collectively, we're lifting 27 bags a minute and 279 in ten minutes," said Williams, adding that the bags weigh about 20 pounds each.

Marnie Ewing and Heather MacFarlane both work at the Gap and volunteered their time on Friday. A few feet away, Jennifer Cook did the same.

"I was kind of depressed this week, actually," said cook.

Cook, a marketing director, moved to the Bay Area from Southern California for a job last fall. She was later laid off.

There wasn't much difference between Cook and Vanhevel -- one was receiving, and the other was giving, and a few weeks away maybe someone was hiring.

They say we get back when we give, and nobody made any promises on Friday, but at Glide Church, hope abounds.


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