“When COVID first started, the number of volunteers dropped off because people were trying to keep safe. When it first happened, I wasn’t sure we’d even be able to have volunteers on site. But then, Philabundance upped all of our safety protocols and volunteers just started showing up, calling, sending tons of emails and asking, ‘Hey, what are the ways I can help? Even if I can’t be there – what are the avenues I can take?’
It’s an amazing display of folks wanting to help where they can during a crisis. That’s what I’m most thankful for – the amount of work they do when they’re here. It’s sometimes insane – 15 to 20 people will sort, box and stack thousands of pounds of food that can then be delivered to those in need. It’s incredible.
Recently, a woman called asking for information about a volunteer shift for her and her family. After I walked her through the sign-up process the woman told me that the volunteer shift was occurring on her son’s birthday. She went on to share that she had recently lost her son and that her family wanted to remember and celebrate him by doing something he loved – helping people. Hearing her story – I cried on the phone, which made her cry. It was an echo chamber.
I can’t imagine the grief she was feeling, but she didn’t back down. Instead she was like, ‘I’m going to do good, I’m going to put good out there.’ When her family showed up – they were all smiles and didn’t shrink away from the work. I think we were sorting potatoes, which isn’t the most fun, but they packed everything away with no complaints and left laughing with smiles on their face.
There are fewer volunteers these days [due to social distancing and safety measures], but we’re still getting tons of work done. Everyone is just so giving. No need for anything in return. They just want to show-up, work and put good out there.
I want to say, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to all of the volunteers. We know that there’s an inherent risk to being out in public – it’s dangerous. But it shows the selflessness of our volunteers. Before COVID, we had a handful of regular volunteers. Now, I see some people are coming in three to four times a week, for the full day. They make this job worth it. They make the entire experience just incredible.”