Jonathan Eklof, an administrator at Truth Ministries (a collection of small churches in Minnesota that reaches out to about 200 low-income families to provide food and supplies), didn’t originally intend to visit Grab Bag on the day I was interviewing. He had come to pick up a load of five pallets of garbage can liners and had already pretty much maxed out his weight limit for his truck.
However, the lure of taking a walk through Grab Bag was too powerful to resist. Eklof likens Grab Bag to Christmas morning; you never know what you’re going to unwrap, or in the case of Grab Bag – find. He admitted that this particular Grab Bag visit didn’t result in his unearthing anything in Grab Bag as “huge” as he’s discovered in previous visits. It did appear however that between the loose-leaf dividers and binders that Truth Ministries would use to put together training manuals and the Catalog order he’d come to pick up that day that Eklof was pleased with the outcome of his visit to Galesburg.
Over the years Eklof has found some really useful items in Grab Bag. Just last year, he picked up about a thousand pounds of paper that allowed Truth Ministries to cut down on their otherwise very expensive printing costs. Eklof had to cut the paper himself, but it was a small price to pay to be able to do more with less.
Truth Ministries originally joined NAEIR in 1991, but had to discontinue their membership a few years ago due to budget concerns. They joined up again last year and have been coming to Grab Bag routinely since.
Most organizations that come through Grab Bag have a similar purpose, a common goal – – to help others. This almost universally shared perspective on the part of NAEIR’s visiting members and Grab Bag staff alike is part of the very essence of Grab Bag; organizations taking care of their respective constituencies and helping each other. For me, this was the most striking aspect of the Grab Bag experience. As a newcomer to NAEIR, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I was asked to speak with some of the organization’s members. Perhaps in my mind I imagined different members fighting over the one, last first aid kit. What I actually encountered was a community spirit, a sense of family that has affirmed my belief in the work of NAEIR and its members.