Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
— Hebrews 13:16
We have a great mix of individuals at the Board of Pensions. This is not surprising — our staff reflects the diversity of the country’s eighth-largest metropolitan area. Each year at this time, I am grateful for the way they come together to help those less fortunate in this poorest of large cities.
In November, a large collection bin appears next to the reception desk, on our second floor, and another on the third-floor stairwell landing. I pass the reception desk several times a day and take the stairs to the third or fourth floor. I watch those bins fill with food.
Last year, Board employees filled and refilled the bins in the weeks before Thanksgiving. Then, they brought in more food in December to help out during the Christmas season. Together, they helped feed more than 275 families and 145 senior citizens through Philabundance, our region’s largest hunger relief organization, over the holidays.
After Thanksgiving, two more bins show up, next to the food bins, as the Marine Toys for Tots campaign gets underway. In 2018, Board employees collected books, gloves, and socks, as well as toys, for children in Philadelphia, where about a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line.
As they share what they have, Board employees manage to get in some fellowship. For our annual Holiday Bazaar, tables of crafts and other gift items fill Town Hall. Employees sell to and buy from each other. The $5 per-table fee for vendors goes to the Board’s assistance programs, and so do proceeds from the sale of donated baked goods and a soup and salad lunch.
We are of several generations and dramatically different experiences and backgrounds here at the Board. We don’t share the same religious affiliations, or race, or ethnicity. We differ in gender and sexual orientation. But we all see the need around us; it’s there on the street corners just outside our office building.
So, as the bins fill with food and toys, I am filled with gratitude as those who serve here at the Board do good, share what they have, and extend grace to each other. While we are diverse, we are one in the call to serve.
Grace and peace,
The Reverend Frank Clark Spencer