Posts Tagged ‘volunteer appreciation week’

Preparing a meal for friends

April 14, 2011

Rupert's working in the lobby before we open the doors for the day. Soon this space will be full of people waiting for food hampers.

When the doors open at eleven a big rush comes through our building. A large number of patrons enter to pick up food hampers, and the warehouse fills up with more people to pack and sort through food. For me this all happens in between answering the phone, explaining the program to first time visitors and trying to figure out how best to accommodate different special diets and requests. But the end result is walking back and forth from my desk to the warehouse between 11 and 4:15 to hand in food slips into a waiting wooden box, where they will be picked up by an awaiting volunteer hamper packer.

This afternoon, we’ve just received a large group of people who just took the number 18 bus here.  There are a few single people, a woman with a stroller and a couple who are here for the first time. Every half hour to an hour we get another bus, and the people who walk, drive, bike or get a ride are often who we serve in between.

When requests slow down we often yell out to the warehouse to let our volunteers know there is a hamper available, because they are often filling time by doing another task in the warehouse. Some volunteers answer back more enthusiastically than others. Take Connie for example, in this situation when the slip drops into the empty box she’ll calls out “Haaamperrrraama!” (more…)

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The Value of One, the Power of Many

April 13, 2011

“Those are a lot of garbage bags,” Matt observed early Friday morning, “people are definitely doing a little spring cleaning.” The front of the warehouse, where we store incoming non-food donations, is piled with bagged clothing like stacks of potatoes during the Potato Blitz. We faced a dilemma. With so many donated clothes, we always struggle to distribute them quickly before more arrives. That’s when Wouda, one of our long-term volunteers piped up to say, “It’s great!  I’ve got something to really keep me busy now!”

Although we are primarily a food program, we also accept clothing and other household donations. In the same way that the food we receive must be sorted and repacked, so too must these non-food items be taken out of their bags and put on hangers to be displayed in the lobby. Over ten years ago, when Wouda brought a friend in to collect a hamper, she noticed that the clothing area could use some attention. She has been responding to that need ever since, dedicating her weekday mornings to this cause.

“I just love it. I love all of it,” Wouda giggled as she surveyed the bags of treasures. She explained to me that only a week ago, there were barely any items for the lobby. She kept busy that week working on potatoes instead, but was concerned by the lack of donations that normally fill our waiting area. “Now,” she said smiling, “the donation bin is overflowing!”

Wouda peeks out from behind a few of the garbage bags of clothing we received on Friday.

Things like this happen all the time. Just when we are beginning to wonder if we will run out of size four diapers, the Food Bank tells us they just received a shipment of them. Just when we are starting to frown at the size of our hampers, we receive an unexpected donation of food. The only way we are able to make use of this good fortune is through the power of our volunteers. Wouda isn’t the only one who has to process this mountain of clothing – she is assisted by the many other volunteers who keep this place bustling. (more…)

Let’s play a game!

April 12, 2011

Each day our program works with a big group of generous people who continually share their time to help out their local community.  They are an amazing group that includes people from different nationalities, experiences and generations.  Each one has their unique jokes and stories and something to teach us.

On a regular basis these volunteers are all working towards the same goal: helping people receive food assistance. However over the last few days I asked most of our volunteers to work towards another goal: playing a game to help me write this blog post! What was the game might you ask? Good question! The game was called “fill-in-the-blank”. I presented everyone with two phrases, and these are some of the answers I received: (more…)

Extending the hand of friendship

April 11, 2011

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?”

Rev. Martin Luther King

“May I never get too busy in my own affairs that I fail to respond to the needs of others with kindness and compassion.”

Thomas Jefferson

The first day I came to the food hamper program it was a warm summer morning.  I walked into the warehouse and was immediately impressed at the number of people working away at many different tasks.  I was there to volunteer, and immediately, someone asked how they could help me.

It has been several years since that day, most of them now, as a paid staff person, but volunteers continue to remain the foundation that our program rests on.  Every aspect of our work exists because volunteers are there to make it happen. (more…)