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Hey Lucy, Where's Ethel?

by Kathie Monroe, Communications

If you’re an “I Love Lucy” fan like me, then your first thought when you enter our sorting room and see the conveyor belt:

“Hey, this looks just like that episode at the candy factory!”

Remember that one? Gal pals, Lucy and Ethel decide to get jobs, while Ricky and Fred become househusbands. As Ricky would say, Ay-yi-yi!

Lucy and Ethel stand at a conveyor belt much like ours. As chocolate candies roll by, they pick them up, wrap ‘em, and put ‘em back on the line to be boxed up.

That’s kind of how our sorting line works. Except we’re sorting food drive donations into categories. That way it’s easy for our agencies to select what they need for the clients we serve.

Categories like vegetables, soups, canned meats, canned milk and condiments. I found the condiments category an intriguing mix. More about that later.

And I had a lot of fun with my new friends on the line: Richard, Ann, Debbie, and Harold.

Harold was my trainer for the day. Here’s a photo of me and Harold on the line. See, I even have red hair!

My day on the line started out much like Lucy’s. I had a pretty easy job. About as easy as wrapping chocolates.

All I had to do was pick up the cans as they rolled down the conveyor belt and put them into the appropriate box. A cinch.

Or so I thought.

Richard, Ann, and Debbie were the “put ‘er on ‘ers” as they call it. Harold and I were the “taker offers”. The put ‘er on ‘ers have the trickier job. At least until I joined up.

They check for damaged cans and boxes, dents, expiration dates, recalls, and the like. All in the name of safety. The goal: make sure that every food item is safe to eat before we box it up and put into inventory.

Here’s Ann and Debbie on the job. They’re expert put ‘er on ‘ers – they can chat it up and have a great time while checking dates and dents at the same time!

After awhile, I got pretty good at being a taker offer. So I figured Harold and I could chat and multi-task too.

Until Richard decided to “speed ‘er up”!

Just like that Lucy episode, the cans started coming down the line fast and furious, and I had to scramble to make sure none got past me.

Here I am gathering ‘em up every which way, just like Lucy.

I learned that even as a taker offer, you still have to pay close attention or the goods will get by you!

So, what else did I learn on the sorting line?

Back to condiments.

I learned they’re not just your typical ketchup and mayo. Harold told me they’re defined as “anything you put in or on something else”, like tomato sauce.

Or water chestnuts. Because you wouldn’t serve a side of water chestnuts on your plate!

I learned that in December we fill boxes and boxes of holiday staples like canned pumpkin, condensed milk, cranberry sauce, and chicken broth. We had a crazy amount of chicken broth!

I learned that we receive some pretty unusual items too. Like canned aloe vera. I consider myself a foodie, but I never realized aloe vera was a fruit that you might actually eat! I just knew it’s a plant that’s used in lotion to keep your skin soft.

You can read all about aloe vera here.

I learned that Ann, Debbie, Richard, and Harold, and all of the other sorting line regulars are a dedicated group of volunteers who take this important job seriously. But, they also have a whole lot of fun together every week!

Just like Lucy, Ricky, Fred, and Ethel.

If you’re interested in joining the fun on our sorting line, click here to find out how.

Meanwhile, I have to go rehearse for my Vita-meata-veg-a-min appearance.


  • Kathie - what a fabulous article! It especially hit home, since I was the "taker offer" on the line this am.

    Posted by Linda Lewis | January 15, 2011 at 03:58 PM

  • Glad you enjoyed! Thanks, Linda for being one of our dedicated taker offers!

    Posted by Kathie | January 17, 2011 at 12:00 AM

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