The value of volunteers

The value of volunteers

July 6, 2021 in Charlie's Corner Harvest Time Newsletter

As we see the community opening back up, The Food Bank’s volunteer program has welcomed back the folks who make the mission of ending hunger in the Ozarks possible. But that wasn’t the case at the beginning of the pandemic.

Last April, The Food Bank had to suspend its volunteer program to protect the people who graciously gave their time to fighting hunger. The Missouri Foundation for Health responded by giving Ozarks Food Harvest the funds to hire temporary workers to not only meet the existing need, but to respond to the increase of individuals receiving help for the very first
time. The state of Missouri recognized our need by sending the Missouri National Guard to provide additional help.

All of these people—donors, temporary workers, soldiers—kept The Food Bank running when it needed them most.

After several months, Ozarks Food Harvest was able to start adding more volunteers under social distancing and strict food safety guidelines. I would like to recognize the work of the dedicated volunteers who stuck with The Food Bank through the COVID-19 crisis. Arlene Eichler is approaching 3,000 hours, and I am so grateful for her dedication.

These volunteers also went above and beyond during the pandemic, each giving 1,000 or more hours of their time: Jim Blackwell, Gary DeHaven, Kris Dreesen, Wil Hardiman, Don Landon, George Lawrence, Harley Snyder and Lona Wait. Thank you for all you have done for The Food Bank.

Ozarks Food Harvest would also like to recognize the reliable work of the Missouri National Guard. The soldiers processed nearly 4 million pounds of food with us from April 2020 to June 2021. I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the men and women of the 1241st Transportation Company (TC). They have truly helped us Transform Hunger into Hope.

“This mission allowed soldiers to serve communities outside of the common militaristic view. Ozarks Food Harvest allowed us to assist with providing the needed necessities, putting a smile on faces of students, senior citizens and others through difficult times,” 1st Sgt. Scott Seib said. “We at the 1241st TC say thank you and look forward to assisting in the future.”

We are sad to see the Missouri National Guard go as they have been reassigned to other pressing needs in the community, but all of the wonderful support we’ve gotten makes me happy to report that The Food Bank has added even more volunteer spots. Now for each three hour session, there are 18 volunteer openings.

Ozarks Food Harvest has also changed its volunteer website. Volunteers are able to control their experience with The Food Bank by personalizing their profiles, self-scheduling for upcoming opportunities and viewing their lifetime hours and participation.

I could not be more grateful for all of the people across southwest Missouri dedicated to fighting food insecurity. Please consider joining our mission by giving time. I invite you to create an account with the new system here to start building your profile and explore opportunities for service. Thank you for your continued support as we rebuild!