Amidst the persisting challenges brought about by the COVID 19 pandemic, the inspiring ‘community pantry’ movement continues to bring new hope to hundreds of neighborhoods across the country.
For the past couple of months, Makati’s San Ildefonso Parish has witnessed an outpouring of kindness and generosity- thanks to the timely assistance of Radyo Katipunan 87.9 FM. Ateneo de Manila University’s official campus radio station has donated more than P30,000 worth of vegetables to the parish’s very own community pantry- serving 440 people on its first visit last May 2, and 350 more last Mother’s Day.
Just this past Sunday, the ‘Voice of the Blue Eagle’ contributed vegetables and crates of dried fish or tuyo, to the delight of organizer Ms. Carol Cepeda-Thor (BS LM, 1991).
“Salamat po Fr. Nono Alfonso at Radyo Katipunan 87.9 FM sa tatlong kahong tuyo at mga gulay na ibinigay niyo para sa community pantry. Mabalos,” expressed the Loyola Schools batchmate of JesCom’s Executive Director, on her Facebook page.
All these generous donations from her alma mater and opportunities to be of greater service, have taught Thor- the leader of multiple charitable projects- poignant lessons on life and faith.
“There are so many learnings from the community pantry. I see so many behaviors and I also become more aware of my behaviors toward so many different people. This effort is not without a hiccup or concern. But all in all, this effort is a blessing,” she wrote on her latest status update.
Recalling how Jesus calmed the stormy seas in the Gospel for the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Thor empathized with those going through trying times and offered her heartfelt prayers.
“I can imagine how much worse it is for the many people who lined up today. I wonder if many of them even find time to pray and go to mass given the struggle to put food on their tables, or on the floors, in the case of the homeless,” she pondered.
“I can just pray that the words of the Gospel comforted them and the Holy Spirit touched their hearts so they remain faithful to God despite and in spite of the poverty they are in.”
When asked by her community pantry teammate, “Ma’am, kayanin kaya natin hanggang Disyembre ang pagbibigay?”, Thor responded with much hope and complete trust in the Lord.
“My answer to her was, ‘I’m not sure. We have to rely on the goodness of our families and friends. We have to trust in God’s providence.’ Truly, I can only hope and pray. Ang sabi ko naman sa mga tao, hangga’t patuloy na may nagbibjgay, patuloy ang ating pagbubukas-palad sa ating mga kapwa,” she recounted.
Asked by a homeless lady if she could take a seat and fall in line, realizations of acceptance and inclusivity entered Thor’s mind.
“I told her, ‘Of course. Lahat tayo ay tinatanggap ng simbahan. Lahat tayo ay Kristiyano.’ Sadly, we see so many layers of division in so many ways in our midst. Even in the pila system, the homeless are still left out. This is the reason why our team seeks them out and always allots them stubs number 1 to 100. A barangay staff once asked me, ‘Why do we do that?’ I simply looked at him and answered, ‘Why not?’”
At the end of another successful and memorable day of bayanihan, Thor voiced her wholehearted appreciation and encouraged others to live the Magis, by helping fill the humble table meant for all to feast.
“Thank you to everyone who contributed to today’s successful community pantry. I just want to share all my experiences and gratitude with all of you,” she mentioned.
“Should you still wish to help our kababayans in this time of need, please message me. Any help is welcome.”
Carol Thor Facebook Post: https://www.facebook.com/542748718/posts/10158427376468719/?_rdc=1&_rdr