Veteran continues service by volunteering
Jacob Waggoner went straight from high school to serving his country, and today he continues his service at home by helping to feed his hungry neighbors.
After retiring from the U.S. Marine Corps, Waggoner moved to Springfield to attend college at Missouri State University. That’s when he learned that thousands of people in the Ozarks struggle with hunger.
“A child cannot go out and get food for themselves and it’s heartbreaking to know there are kids going hungry,” he shared.
Waggoner, 25, wanting to help those in need, joined The Food Bank in October through The Mission Continues Fellowship Program — an opportunity for veterans to work for a nonprofit organization that supports their passion to continue their service at home.
“A lot of veterans may struggle to find their purpose, so this program allows them to find their purpose and reconnect with their service,” Waggoner said.
Waggoner works as a volunteer coach for The Food Bank, and The Mission Continues provides him a cost-of-living stipend.
“My favorite part about working here has been the other volunteers,” he shared. “They create such a positive environment to work in and it’s been great getting to know them and see how happy they are.”
So far, Waggoner has volunteered 416 hours with the goal to complete 520 hours by the end of his six-month fellowship.
“Working at Ozarks Food Harvest has helped me see the growing issue that hunger is,” he said.
Waggoner says he realizes the impact of hunger the most at Mobile Food Pantries where he sees people directly receiving food.
In addition to volunteering part-time at Ozarks Food Harvest, Waggoner is also a full-time student and works up to 30 hours a week at Hiland Dairy.
But Waggoner is no stranger to hard-work after serving in the Marine Corps.
“In the Marines, I could either wake up and be sour about the work, or I could wake up and dig deep for motivation and understand that I am a part of something greater than myself,” he said about his time stationed in California. “I made it a growing experience for myself.”
The retired Marine plans to continue serving hungry children, families and seniors as a volunteer at The Food Bank after his fellowship ends.
“I don’t like the idea of kids going hungry,” Waggoner shared. “I want to help and contribute my part to fixing that problem.”
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