Cut open seven loaves of bread. Stack slices in neat rows on the stainless steel table. Unwrap slices of American cheese and place one on each stack. Drain ham slices and fold over the cheese. Remove bottom slice of bread to cover the ham and cheese, making a sandwich. Stack in piles. Four sandwiches in each plastic bag. Squeeze air out and seal. Place in frig. Wipe down table. Begin again.
Seven days a week the sandwich room is a hive of volunteer activity filling lunch bags to feed families on the last leg of their journey. I met a pastor from Minneapolis; Methodists from Denver; Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur from Boston and Hartford. Upstairs a mother/daughter team from Austin sorted donations. African Americans, whites, Latino/as, Asian Americans. The youngest was a 9-year-old from Chicago who helped the littler kids with their coloring.
A retired pizza parlor owner from Miami posted kids’ artwork on the counter after straightening boxes of diapers and bottles of shampoo. ChildFund volunteers set up a play area; medical volunteers conducted pre-natal exams; a Guatemalan paramedic responded to reports of headaches, sore throats and diarrhea. Valiant volunteers worked the clothes line, looking for the right sizes and styles, praying each shoe had a partner nearby. Others served soup, cut up watermelon, emptied trashcans and mopped the floor. The faithful generosity of these volunteers — and those who came before and those who are sure to follow — was heartening. I admired the patient organization of a small but resilient staff welcoming migrants and volunteers daily. I left grateful for the kaleidoscopic humanity we added to the border. I return home confident that we will continue to work putting an end to the cruelty of this administration’s immigration plans.