“There are people in the world so hungry that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Opelika and Auburn are blessed. We have restaurants, cafes, delis, bakeries, bistros, coffee shops, mega grocery stores, neighborhood markets, produce stands, farmers markets, food trucks and food festivals. Food is everywhere.
So is hunger.
The food insecurity rate for our county is 13.4%. That’s 23,020 people who do not have consistent meals. Too many of that number are children.
Think of what a day must be like for a child who is constantly hungry. Waking up wondering if there will be breakfast to eat; trying to focus in school, to learn how to pronounce new words and do long division when the aroma from the cafeteria fogs your mind. After school there is no snack, no cookies or cold glass of milk. Maybe there’ll be something to eat before you sleep again, but maybe not.
“Hunger is not a problem. It is an obscenity. How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank
Because of places like the East Alabama Food Bank and people like Jeff and Trent Simmons, Opelika is helping our hungry neighbors.
Jeff has been the owner of Top Hat Chimney Sweeps for more than 35 years. His family has built this company, through hard work and sheer determination, into a team of highly skilled professionals.
Trent is following in his father’s footsteps and leading Top Hat Chimney Sweeps into the next stage of growth for this flourishing company. The culture at Top Hat is like a family. Team members care deeply about their customers and about each other. And we care very much about our two cities.
When I sat down with Trent at the same table where we have our company meetings and share meals and encourage each other, it was to have a conversation about why it has become so important to him to support the East Alabama Food Bank.
“From middle school into college, I made seven mission trips to Mexico to build houses for local families. That experience gave me such a perspective on the abundance we have here — shelter, food, running water, electricity. These were things children there couldn’t imagine, and we take them for granted every day.”
I asked him what he wanted his team members to gain from his plans to give back to the community.
“I feel like, in this age of social media and being ‘more connected than ever,’ we are actually less connected than we’ve ever been. We’ve lost our gratitude. We’ve lost our empathy for those around us who do not have the blessings we have. I want my team to feel the profound joy that comes from being grateful and from giving something meaningful to another human being.”
Under Trent’s leadership, and with the cooperation and commitment of our team members and our loyal customers, we are inviting you to make a difference. And because we are southern and attend football second only to church, we have chosen the weeks leading up to the Iron Bowl as the perfect time to come together to do something wonderful. And you’re invited. Come to Top Hat on Nov. 17. Join us for sliders and sweet tea. Drop your name in the top hat for your chance to win a chimney evaluation, a dryer vent service or even a Primo grill. Enjoy the music from the radio van that will be spreading the word.
And bring food — all the food you can spare.
Because what you bring just may be the only thing a little girl eats the next day. It may be the one bright spot in a hungry little boy’s long night. Your kindness may be what keeps a newborn baby thriving and happy.
Bring food because… “Man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty …” — John F. Kennedy