When Vikki first arrived for a meal at S.A.L.T. Box, a member agency of the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, she sat in the parking lot too ashamed to walk inside. After gathering her courage, she walked through the doors and got half way down the stairs and stopped.
“I noticed a lady standing at the bottom of the stairs with a huge smile on her face, who had her arms open to me,” recalled Vikki.
Once downstairs, Vikki didn’t speak or make eye contact with anyone. “At that moment, I wished I was invisible,” Vikki remembered. “But, they served me a meal.
Vikki left that evening, but eventually started quietly attending the meal twice a month. One night she did something she’d never done before—she spoke.
“It feels different here,” Vikki said.
Shocked, a volunteer said, “Say that again?”
“I feel different,” Vikki said louder.
And then Vikki explained, “When I walk in, it’s like I’m being enveloped in this big wonderful hug of love. This place gives me something I haven’t had in a long time—hope. Hope takes over and raises you above the need. People are hungry. They are hungry for food, but they are hungry for human kindness.”
Now, just a year later, Vikki is one of the pantry’s most faithful volunteers. “I got stronger and stronger. Now, I can’t imagine not being at S.A.L.T. Box telling people they are worthy.”
Vikki continued, “We don’t just provide a meal for the body; we provide a meal for the soul. It’s the people that welcome you anywhere in life that make the difference. You see, God is here in all of us, and not because we preach Him, but because we exude Him.”