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Del Webb volunteers assist with food bank
Volunteers from Del Webb working at the food bank include, from left, coordinator Sharon Bayer, Walt and Anne Larson, Jackie Rudy, Laverne Cortsi, as well as Sandy and Lou George. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Lou George has a system when it comes to placing labels on canned goods.

The resident of Del Webb Woodbridge was one of six volunteers Thursday at the Second Harvest Food Bank of San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.  Since March, some 50 retired and semi-retired folks have been dedicating their time toward helping those in need of food assistance.

Second Harvest Food Bank currently services seven counties and over 226 non-profit charities, with the agency feeding over 5,500 children and seniors twice a month.

George is part of the Volunteers of Woodbridge Seniors or VOWS, the brainchild of fellow Del Webb resident Sharon Bayer.

She started the program after helping out Carl and Betty Willhoft with the Second Harvest donation barrel located in the Del Webb community club house during the recent holidays.

“I was surprised to find that (Second Harvest) was without an organized volunteer program,” she said.

Sherry Stevens, the agency’s administrative assistant for the past 13 years, confirmed it.

Second Harvest has set up an area at its 704 Industrial Drive warehouse, where, on this day, George along with his wife, Sandy, coupled with Walt and Anne Larson, Jackie Rudy and Laverne Cortsi spent time placing labels on personal-sized canned peaches during the 12:30 to 3 p.m. shift.

Lou George was quick at placing labels and tossing the food product into the bin.

“I have my own system,” he said. “And once I get going, I just keep it going.”

Most of the volunteers agree that the time flies by while helping out at Second Harvest.

“Most of us are either retired or semi-retired. We have the time to help out,” Bayer said.

At first, VOWS came in just once a week every Monday. But thanks to the added support, Stevens said the groups of six operate on shifts, working each Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

“We now have enough volunteers to add Wednesday (as a shift),” she added.

Bayer noted that some of the volunteers vary in their support to the cause.

“Some are able to help once a week, some every other week, and some once a month,” she said. “Several also do volunteer work in the community, at their church, or are working part-time.

“We also have volunteers on call. They’ll work as often as they are needed.”

Mike Mallory, who is CEO of the food bank, applauded the efforts of VOWS.

”The comment is they really like giving back and helping those less fortunate,” he said.

To learn more, call (209) 239-2091.