Atheists in Chicago Package More Than 18,000 lbs of Fruit

Last week, on the day after Christmas, more than 30 members of Secular Events in Chicago (including Jessica and me from this site) went to the Greater Chicago Food Depository to help with whatever they needed us to do.

Turns out they wanted us to sort good fruit from bad fruit and box up the good stuff so they could ship it to local food pantries across the city.

Some of the oranges were torn, squishy, and disgusting… but we rescued the good ones!

We’re in here somewhere…

Over the course of three hours, we went through 18,522 lbs. of fruit, packaging 450 cases for shipment, for people who are “food insecure” (to use the GCFD’s terminology):

Fruity goodness, ready to ship

In addition to our group were eight people who came independently, which led to this exchange with one of our group members:

Had an interesting conversation with the lady next to me in the assembly line. She asked what our group was. Hearing we were “just a bunch of people coming together to help out,” she asked, “What’s your Church? Where do you meet?”

I responded: “We meet at places like this where we can do real, practical good.”

Damn right we do. And it was, surprisingly enough, a lot of fun. I have never seen that many atheists come together in my city to do something like that and I’m eager to do it again soon.

If you live in the area and want to be a part of this the next time it happens — or if you have ideas for what we can do next — please join the group :)

(Thanks to Rachel and Eduardo, both for the pics and for putting this whole event together!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Jason M. Robertson

    A good time was had by all! The three hours were satisfying, but not physically exhausting and the tasks were such that it could be performed relatively easily by people without prior experience.

  • Kate Donovan

    This sounds just lovely :D I’ll be there for the next one.

  • Joel Sax

    Atheists always say that you don’t need religion to do good. I get tired of the constant repetition of that mantra without works. This is the kind of good will that will help your cause and show that you mean what you say, a definite plus.

  • Lee Miller

    It must be a made-up story, because EVERYONE knows that atheists never try to help their fellow humans . . . because they have no morals. Nice try, Hemant.

  • Anna

    Without works? Most of us don’t perform acts of charity in the name of atheism. I contribute to plenty of charitable causes, but I’ve never gotten together with a group of atheists to do that. I do it on my own, or with people from the larger community.

    While it might help our cause for the religious to see atheists gather together to do charity, I’m uneasy at the implication that atheists should form groups to make our “brand” more palatable to society at large.

  • Katwise

    Who knows what great contributions atheists have made? We make unsung, individual efforts. Recently, secular organizations have made it possible to make communal efforts.

  • A3Kr0n

    I’m glad to see these types of events getting the attention they deserve. We’ll need to fill the vacuum left by the ever-dwindling religious population :-)

  • brian

    Agree with everyone here… my wife and I constantly do good for the altruistic value, we are atheists. I get tired of every time religious organizations donate things to our school they have to claim that they gave it to us, just once I would like a religious organization to do some good for my school anonymously.

  • Naomi Anderegg

    Excellent! I think that one of the frustrations that I (and other atheists) feel is the lack of an organized group to do good with. Living in the deep south, where most volunteer organizations are strongly linked to religious groups, I have, at times, volunteered with various church groups. (I don’t wear atheist t-shirts to said events. I just go, do my part, and try to blend in.) But… it definitely seems like there is a place for an intentionally secular group like this one in my life, and I like to hear about such groups developing around the country!

  • Bill S.

    Please show your support for plaintiffs fighting a 10 Commandments monument in front of a public high school. They need your moral support just like Jessica.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    It is more that they went against atheism to do so. They fed the poor, thus encouraging more overpopulation and the ruination of the planet according to science, which insists of course that the world would be better off if the parasite species of Homo Sapiens went extinct.

  • Brandon McCowan

    Go away, troll…

  • Jeff Wagg

    I quite enjoyed it, and my kids did too. I think the reason that secular folks don’t do more things like this is that they’re not invited to, at least not as a group. Rachel did some real good here by organizing things.