When large food donations from retail stores come to the food bank each week, teams of reclamation volunteers are there to sort them into categories — meat, produce, baked goods, etc. — before other volunteers can prepare them for distribution to our hunger-relief partners.
The “Wednesday crew” is one group of volunteers that always has a great time while doing great work. Members of this crew include Jean, Val, Cindy, Bill, Rick, Bruce, Leeann and Elizabeth — plus friends they manage to recruit now and then!
“I call them my dream team because they come in with a purpose,” said Francesca, the food bank’s reclamation coordinator. “The special thing about them is they are a tight-knit family group. We put the radio on, they jam, they sing, they dance the whole time they’re out there. It’s a blast.”
She said reclamation volunteers like this group are given a higher level of trust. They have to understand food safety and temperatures, plus the job includes a lot of heavy lifting. Rick, who drove hi-los at Meijer before volunteering at the food bank, is the only volunteer who operates heavy equipment.
“We would not be able to do this project without them,” Francesca said.
Rick began volunteering nine years ago because he needed something to get him out of the house.
“I enjoy doing it,” he said. “It’s a good organization with good people here. They provide a good service to communities. They feed so many people.”
Jean and Val both volunteered through their job at General Motors, so when they retired, they decided to help out regularly at the food bank.
“We like these guys. They’re fun to work with,” Jean said. “I always feel good coming here and leaving here. Come and join us! We have a great time.”
For Cindy, a volunteer who joined the group after the pandemic, volunteering in hunger relief means a lot to her, because she once was in need herself.
“I raised five kids by myself, so we were hungry a lot,” she shared. “I started volunteering because I needed something to do, but I also like helping the community. I like knowing that I’m doing something for someone.”
Feeding America West Michigan is beyond grateful for the hard work, great attitudes and big hearts volunteers bring, whether they’re serving at our warehouse, at a Mobile Food Pantry or with one of our agency partners across our service area. If you would like to learn more about volunteer opportunities, visit FeedWM.org/volunteer.