By scooping 600 pounds of rice, Nicole Tsong gets a good workout by doing good work.
WHEN I FIRST saw the pallet stacked with 50-pound bags of long-grain white rice, I thought there was no way we could get through all of them, especially with a group of just 13.
I underestimated our abilities.
I was at Northwest Harvest’s facility in Kent to volunteer to pack food — and get some movement in while supporting a good cause. Northwest Harvest is a food-bank distributor, supplying 375 food banks with more than 2 million meals every month from donations, or from food the nonprofit buys.
Volunteers help sort bulk food. Our job was to divvy up and pack rice, scooped one pound at a time into plastic bags, then twirled, sealed and packed neatly into boxes to distribute to families in need.
Most Read Stories
After a quick orientation, we put on hairnets, washed our hands, pulled on gloves and got to work.
Volunteer duties range from bundling the bags that go into boxes to scooping. I chose scooping, figuring it was likely physical.
Was it ever.
I stood at a giant stainless-steel bin, where Lonnie, a Northwest Harvest employee, cut open and dumped bags of rice. We had plastic cups to dig into the hills of rice to put in plastic bags. A runner gathered our bags and took them to the packing tables, where people sealed them and put them in boxes.
I scooped vigorously at first, trying for speed while also filling my cup to the brim. I felt each additional bit of rice would mean something to a family, and worked on creating a little snow cone of rice before putting it into a bag. I chatted with Pat and Chuck, my fellow scoopers. Both were new and planned to volunteer weekly.
After a lot of scooping, my right hand was getting tired from gripping the cup, so I switched to my left.
Things slowed down on my nondominant side. I sometimes would miss the bag,…