During the recent partial government shutdown, the local Sikh temple, Gurudwara Sacha Marag, United Sikhs and other Sikh organizations upped their usual generous giving game to come to the aid of local federal employees who were left high and dry without a paycheck.
Their Degh Tegh Community Kitchen turned the regular, Sunday evening meals into 5 to 7 o’clock nightly dinners for out-of-pocket federal employees. People sat together and ate together while Sikh community volunteers worked the kitchen.
Temple members also collected food and other useful items and opened a dry goods store.
When the shutdown ended, provisionally or permanently, the Sikh community discontinued the nightly, hot dinners and decided to give what was left to area food banks.
Last Saturday, on their third stop of the day, more than 30 members of the temple delivered 700 pounds of dry goods into the waiting arms of Auburn Food Bank staff.
“The variety will fit all our categories,” said an appreciative Debbie Christianson, director of the food bank.
The give included generous quantities of toilet paper, which families can’t buy if they are on food stamps, and pop-top cans, which are a prized item for all food bank customers.
“Pop-top cans mean they don’t have to worry about how they are going to get into the can, and then even for the people for whom we are making home deliveries, it’s an easy open, easy-fix for them. A lot of them cannot use their an openers any more as their hands are gnarled up with arthritis or whatever, so that makes it easy to open,” Christianson explained. “There were also fruit cups. That’s a good product, because our kids can eat that quick and easy. It’s good for our homeless, and our seniors.
“…The variety was amazing, and they didn’t even know what a difference that makes when I’m looking at what I should give to our homeless families and what to our seniors. This works for absolutely everybody and every household that we serve,” Christianson said.
Temple member Aman Singh explained what happened.
“Originally, when the government shutdown happened, several Sikh community organizations, including United Sikhs, the Degh Tegh Community Kitchen and our temple on 124th got together and decided at that point to do something. We had no idea how long the shutdown was going to be, but we knew a lot of people were affected, directly and indirectly.
“… Fortunately, the shutdown ended a few days after we started our program. That was great; however, we knew it would take a couple of weeks for people to get their back pay and have enough funds to feel comfortable again, so we continued the hot service on Feb. 2. We brought what was left over to the food bank so it can be used still in the right places. However, if a shutdown happens again, we are going to start this service up again, maybe it’ll be in more of a direct time so that we can help the impacted people,” Singh said.
“One of our philosophies is that everybody who needs help has food available to them to meet that basic need. And if they don’t have a home, if somebody’s being pushed into a wrong situation, their are basic levels of things we can provide,” said Aman Singh.
“Wherever a natural disaster comes up, we go right away,” said Belwant Singh, a member of United Sikhs, an international organization serving in 11 countries.