Volunteer Stories: Brenda Pays it Forward with Ravioli

When Brenda was a young child, her family didn’t have much. In fact, there were many times she would open the pantry and not find anything. It wasn’t that she was picky and didn’t find what she wanted, the cupboards were bare; there was nothing to eat.

Brenda’s mother suffered from severe mental illness, as a result Brenda and her older sister were often left alone for days. Brenda’s sister was a bulwark against the outside world and kept her feeling safe. Often they would go around to other apartments to borrow a loaf of bread from one neighbor and a bottle of ketchup from another. They would “sop” the bread in the ketchup, and eat it for days.

Their mother ended up abandoning them. When the landlord called their father, instead of coming to pick them up he sent money for a train ticket back to their mother. “I was able to take this in stride because I had a sack lunch with a peanut butter sandwich in it, and got to sit by the window in the train.”

At their next apartment, there was an older landlady who didn’t have any children. She would frequently feed the girls. Brenda recalled, “We had nothing in our pantry, and the landlady would send canned ravioli up to our apartment.” Those cans of ravioli were the girls’ lifelines. “I know what it is like to be a hungry child and not have much. That is why I wanted to help.”

Brenda is now a grandmother living in Owasso near her grandchildren. She volunteers at Anderson Elementary. As a deeply religious person, Brenda came to the Food Bank with a group of volunteers from First Baptist Tulsa. Their work was to prepare meal kits that will feed children during the school closures. She came to the Food Bank to help feed children, and ironically, the first thing she picked up was a can of ravioli.

Brenda’s children never had to sop bread, and she is grateful for her many blessings. “When you know what it’s like to be really hungry, you care for those who are. My passion is for those who are hurting, and I’m happy to help.”

Click here if Brenda’s story has inspired you to volunteer to support children.

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