Tags: Featured Story, Parenting
A local Bakersfield family is changing the world one lunch (or 10) at a time. Acts of kindness don't have to be grandiose. Sometimes all a stranger needs is a friendly smile and a healthy meal.
June Murray with her two boys, Jett, age 9, and Tash, age 7, deliver 10 sack lunches to the homeless every week. Silvia Bell of Photography by Silvia captured their beautiful smiles in a location close to wear they hand out food in downtown Bakersfield. After this cover photo shoot, KCFM joined them on their humanitarian project. Follow them on Instagram @10_lunches.
Last year, Sean and June Murray's son, Jett, made a new year's resolution to serve the local homeless population. The family came up with a plan – 10 lunches a week for 52 weeks to help feed the "food insecure." Now in their second year, they have continued their resolve and have no plans to stop it.
Prepared with 10 sack lunches in brown paper bags with notes of encouragement written on the outside, June and her two sons, Jett, age 9, and Tash, age 7, have distributed these meals faithfully every week. And, if they run out of their lunches and still see people in need, they run to a nearby store to get more food. "It's not for me. It's for my boys. I want to teach them what's important," says June. "It really opened our eyes to a need that we didn't even know was out there."
June recently received the Beautiful Bakersfield Crystal Camellia Award in the Humanitarian – Individual category for her efforts that have contributed to the community as a whole. This award is presented by the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to lunches, June and her boys have also collected clothes, blankets, and other necessities for people in need. She posts their drives and special distribution opportunities on Instagram at @10_lunches.
"Taking the first step is always hard," June says. "I want people to know that it is so easy to give and really rewarding to do it. It's easy. We ask them if they are hungry, and if they are, we give them a lunch."
When the Murray family first started passing out their lunches each week, they soon realized that 10 lunches go fast. They hand them out in a few blocks' radius on 19th Street between Chester and K Streets or off California and Union. Their lunches usually include a meat and cheese sandwich, fruit, granola bar, chips, and cookies. In the summer, they also take an ice chest to give out cold water. "Ice water is almost more appreciated than food on hot days," June says. "Cold water is like gold."
Many of the lunch recipients have come to count on the Murray family visits and affectionately call June the "lunch lady." Through this experience, they have met people and made friends with so many people. "They are so happy to see us," says June. "We have never had a negative experience or have never felt scared or threatened."
Some of these friendships have gone beyond sack lunches. An elderly gentleman they knew from their visits ended up being admitted to Memorial Hospital because of a cancer diagnosis. The Murray family visited him and took him slippers and blankets. "He didn't have any family or anyone to visit him. We wanted him to feel loved," she says.
June and her boys have a flexible schedule to deliver lunches, because she homeschools them through Valley Oaks Charter Schools. As part of their curriculum, she incorporates lessons on what they can do to be good citizens. Her husband, Sean, who works for PG&E, also goes out with them on Saturdays when his schedule allows. In addition to helping the homeless, Jett and Tash also compete in gymnastics at Perfect 10 in Tehachapi. To find out what service projects the Murray family is planning, make sure to follow them on Instagram @10_lunches.