A Helping Hand for the Holidays - Capital Area Food Bank
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A Helping Hand for the Holidays

By Shamia Holloway December 24, 2014

paulHelping others has always been a way of life for Paul Lawrence, who was raised in a large family – 11 siblings to be exact – right here in the District’s historic Southeast Anacostia neighborhood.
“My mom always fed everyone who came over to the house.  She never turned anyone away,” said Lawrence.  So it’s no surprise that Lawrence, an employee with the District’s Department of General Services for 38 years, is a volunteer driver for the Capital Area Food Bank’s Food Assistance Partner Sistas United, which provides food and services for the chronically unemployed, homeless and at-risk teens.
“I used to work in the school system and I saw first-hand how hunger affects people, especially kids.  They lacked focus, acted out and many came to school just to eat,” he explained.  This experience getting to know the school employees and the kids and how they struggled with hunger, even with federally subsidized programs for breakfast and lunch, brought Lawrence to the conviction that fuels his extensive volunteering today.
He began volunteering at Sistas United nine months ago when Founder Wessita McKinley told him she needed a truck to transport food.  Lawrence didn’t hesitate to offer up his truck and volunteer his time.  Every other Tuesday of the month, after working his regular job from 9pm-6am, Lawrence can be seen picking up food at the CAFB and dropping it off at Sistas United.  “Hunger is a problem.  I see it every night with people rummaging through garbage cans when I’m at work.”
Lawrence’s time as Sistas United is especially rewarding because he sees the transformative power of food.  “The smiles on people’s faces when they don’t have to worry about what they’re going to eat; the idea that kids are going to bed with a full stomach because of what we provide are all priceless.  Receiving food takes away some of the household problems kids see.  It fills a void,” said Lawrence.
“Our nation has trillions of dollars but so many people are hungry.  That’s why I give,” Lawrence said.  “Everyone at some point has had someone do something for them, so everyone should give back.”