When Sharon Bayer answered the call of a friend who was organizing an event for the Second Harvest Food Bank during the Thanksgiving season, she had no idea that she was embarking on a mission that would soon grow to dozens of volunteers that help the non-profit in immeasurable ways.
And all of them were recognized on Monday afternoon for their dedication to what has become one of the leading agencies in San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties for feeding impoverished seniors, children, and families.
Second Harvest Chief Executive Officer Mike Mallory teamed up with his staff and some of their family members to present the 50 volunteers – almost all of whom were residents from the Del Webb Woodbridge community – with a “thank you” dinner of chicken and tri-tip.
Just seeing the numbers in attendance was enough to remind Bayer of why she got involved with the organization in the first place.
“Just knowing that we’re helping in the community is really what this is all about,” Bayer said. “Almost all of us here are retired and it gives us something positive to do, and to see it branching out beyond Del Webb into the community as a whole is a great thing.
“Just to see how many people are here right now is amazing – to think that it could grow to even more is even better.”
According to Mallory, the tasks that the group has tackled since becoming the first all-volunteer force that the non-profit has ever had has streamlined the process of delivering the 5,600 bags of groceries that go out to the needy in the community every month.
Each one of those recipients receives between 15 and 18 pounds of groceries in a typical package.
With a large portion of the canned goods coming in from area processors like Del Monte Foods as “shiners” – without labels and ingredient lists – the work that the 50-person strong group has done to prepare those for deliveries every month has allowed them to take what would have normally taken staffers three weeks and condensed them into several days.
During one of their visits they managed to label 10,000 cans in a single day.
Mallory was quick with the jokes as he was speaking to the group that has grown to become a force of their own in less than four months – primarily by recommendations of friends and word-of-mouth recruiting.
“We were going to serve a dinner tonight of peas, and peaches, and apples – that’s what I voted for but I obviously lost,” Mallory said.
Collectively the group has put in nearly 520 hours in the four months that they’ve been active with their volunteer work.
“I’m just so happy to see this many people getting involved with this,” Bayer said. “At the end of the day we’re helping people, and that’s a great thing to do for the community.”
Those interested in becoming a part of the volunteer force at the Second Harvest Food Bank can contact Bayer at 825-4347 for more information.
To contact Jason Campbell e-mail email@example.com, or call (209) 249-3544.