I got the call from Share Our Strength on Friday requesting volunteer help on Sunday for the LA Times Celebration of Food and Wine benefit at Paramount. Regardless of the late notice, I got butterflies. Maybe even a bit lightheaded. Some people go weak over movie stars – I lose my mind over gourmet-handcrafted food. To prep for the large amount of yum I would inhale (for charity yada yada yada) I ate nothing but fruit and veggies for two days, lived at the gym, and fasted the last 18 (miserable) hours before the event.
Technically, Share Our Strength had asked me to help sell raffle tickets at their booth, and I totally intended to – once my food obsession had been satiated. I arrived early so my eating would not cut into my volunteering time. Before I type out this entire embarrassing list I want everyone to know this happened over several hours and most of the food was in sample sizes – okay. Alright here goes…
First stop Coolhaus – retro-architectural-gourmet-ice-cream-sandwich-chow-truck – I got peach cobbler ice cream sandwiched between two oatmeal cookies, next the Dosa Truck for a Dosa (Indian crepe) wrapped around spinach, cheese and potato with curry sauce, a Chocolate Chipotle Cake Ball at Delicious Wishes, Aged cheddar samples, spicy potato salad, blueberry lemonade, homemade strawberry buttermilk ice cream, Thai pitas and mung bean pattie (better than sounds), gourmet potato chips, wahoos veggie tacos, chocolate cake muffin, homemade s’more at Madame Chocolat, oh crap almost forgot and then a snickerdoodle cookie at the end. I have no idea how I ate that much it was an awesome feat. Estimated calorie intake 4000 to 5000. Days would have to fast to make up for today-3. Was it worth it for one day of gourmet gluttony? Yes.
As for the volunteering - I manned the booth with the other volunteers but the best time I had was helping the chefs and restaurant owners set up the VIP area. Though some were a bit snippy (who will remain nameless here). I probably ran across the lot 6 times filling various requests. I ended up invading the Paramount set supplies at one point and snatched some unused black curtains to use as table linens because we had run out. I did this under the eye of a Paramount security guard who saw me taking the curtains and said, “Ma’am, can I help you?” He said it like, “Ma’am can I take you to studio jail?” So I played dumb, which I hate doing but... [bat eyelashes, flip hair, jut out hip]... I said, “It’s the damn’dest thing I just can’t get these curtains off the metal poles." They were attached to because they were part of a stage. The over accommodating guard said, “Oh let me help you with that.” So children -when stealing act like suppose to be stealing.
Here's the irony in this volunteer assignment and blog. Share Our Strength helps fight childhood hunger and food insecurity. Over 17 million children in the United States, that's one in four, faces hunger. I stuffed myself like a little pig at an event to help children who may not even get one good meal a day.
On a side note (and I do this out of love and with the knowledge that TheGoodMuse’s design is far from perfect) – Share Our Strength has one of the most difficult websites to negotiate of any charity I’ve ever seen. It’s like a word bomb went off on every page. After I was asked to volunteer for the LA Times event I literally had to Google LA Times Food and Wine to find any information because I couldn’t find it on their website. What’s needed? Fewer words. Easier Tabs. Events page with info. General volunteer sign-up - THAT’S EASY TO FIND. More concrete factoids, for example: How exactly does the Great American Dine Out raise money to help stop hunger? What percentage goes to support your programs? On a positive note -The Great American Bake Sale page has improved since last year because of a searchable map.
Bottom-line on the Share Our Strength Website– less pomp more substance. Potential volunteers please don’t get discouraged or frustrated.