By Kelly McBride Moore, Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin Volunteer
My dad was the kind of guy who never did anything halfway.
There was the way he decorated for Christmas — a two-day marathon that included gleefully sneaking new décor into the house despite my mom’s best efforts to stop him — and the way his love of biking quickly evolved from 30-milers to 100-plus milers and eventually the 300-mile trek from Minneapolis to Green Bay.
So it was little surprise that when he volunteered to coordinate the annual holiday food drive at his workplace, he did it with gusto. We’d hear him down in our basement early in the mornings, recording radio broadcast-style messages that would be sent to employees district-wide. But rather than your run-of-the-mill communication, Dad adopted a deejay persona, “Big Steve,” mixing themed music, humorous anecdotes and a booming radio voice with the important message of collecting food for those in need in our communities. “From a soundproof studio in …” he’d always begin, adding a quip about the day’s news or the frigid weather outside, “… this is the Big Steve Radio Network.”
Dad’s delight in planning his broadcasts and promoting the food drive effort through other avenues yielded results as year after year, his company set food collection records while keeping employees thoroughly entertained.
It came as no surprise to any of us, then, when he began extending his collections on behalf of the hungry beyond his annual employer food drive. When he and my mom held a party to celebrate their 50th birthdays, guests were asked to bring food instead of gifts. My brother and I grew accustomed to hearing “maybe we could organize a food drive as part of …” when it came to our various extracurricular activities. He even added a part-time job at a local food shelf for a time, working tirelessly to collect and process donations on behalf of those who needed them.
Dad passed away in 2013 after a 10-month battle with cancer. He was just 55 years old, and life without him threw us all into disarray. We’ve since found ways to honor his memory in ways big and small — including doing good for others through donations and volunteerism.
It seemed appropriate, then, that we would honor him through service on the anniversary of his death. Of all the local opportunities to volunteer, one in particular spoke to my mom and me, and we quickly signed up to work with Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin.
The anniversary of a loved one’s death is never easy, but rolling up our sleeves to help make a difference helped immensely. We were impressed with Feeding America’s entire operation, from the terrific warehouse space to the scope of its service and the tremendous organization that had our rag-tag group of volunteers quickly and efficiently sorting and packaging canned goods, meats and more. The experience was tremendous.
Work obligations prevent us from helping during regular weekday volunteer hours, but we were pleased to take advantage of some additional evening hours during the holiday season. We’ll be back at it soon, doing what we can to make life a little brighter for families facing hunger.
We may not have a soundproof studio, but we will ensure that Big Steve’s voice lives on. We’re so thankful for the chance to honor him in this way.