Spring Volunteer Event: Greater Washington County Food Bank

Think about the last time you were hungry. Your stomach was churning with emptiness, your mind was wandering, you couldn’t focus, and you were downright starting to get hangry (That’s anger-induced hunger, folks). If you’re like me, this was probably right before lunch today. A lunch that you knew you’d surely be getting in only an hour, from that trendy new restaurant down the street, and if you saved the room, probably dessert too, because as they say, “Treat yo’ self.” But what if you didn’t know where your lunch was coming from or if it would be coming at all? What if you didn’t have a resource like the Greater Washington County Food Bank (GWCFB)?

The GWCFB has been providing groceries and nutritional education to food insecure residents of Washington County for the past 30 years. Through their network of 45 distribution sites and seven agencies throughout the county, this nonprofit primarily relies on community support to help the over 25,000 people who are food insecure. This past Friday, a couple of us from ABG Capital, VoIP Innovations, and Inspira traveled to the Brownsville, PA, site to volunteer.

volunteering at food bankWe arrived at what appeared to be a grocery store, long since vacated. Just when I was thinking we were at the wrong destination, Heidi Hoffman, Donor Relations Coordinator, opened a side glass door to greet us and we saw the “Greater Washington County Food Bank” etched on the front. I let out an audible sigh of relief; we were indeed at the distribution center and ready to begin our service!

Inside, the empty store it was essentially a huge warehouse full of boxes, bags, supplies, food, pantry items, bins, and pallets. It looked like there was enough food to feed an army, but with 25,000+ in danger of going hungry, this stock would go quickly; especially without generous people willing to give food or monetary donations. We were about to find out just how quickly huge pallets of food could be whittled down…

Caleb, a GWCFB staff member, led us to the box-packing area. Our task for the day was to pack boxes of food for seniors. Each of us selected a station around the belt to form an assembly circle. One person to shape the boxes and tape them together, one on cereal, one on juice, one on canned goods, and so on. Three hours and a lot of cardboard cuts and sweat later, we managed to build six pallets of boxes for the seniors!

food bank volunteerAfter that, it was time to step away from the assembly line and finish our afternoon of service with a tour. Heidi led us to the other side of the facility which will be the future home of a thrift store and a full service kitchen. The kitchen will aid in the “nutritional education” part of their mission. Instead of saying, “Here is a jar of sauce and a box of pasta—go make a meal and good luck,” individuals will be able to learn cooking skills as well.

We also ventured outside to the back of the building. Along the hillside, fruit trees will be planted which will also aid in future sustenance.
Our spring volunteer event was quite the success! We didn’t get lost, endured a fantastic cardiovascular workout, and most of all, helped out a wonderful organization that will in turn help the hungry of our Greatest Generation. We thank the Greater Washington County Food Bank for hosting and allowing us to serve!

If you’d like to get some great ideas on ways that you can also give back, please visit us at the Tapolci Foundation. And let us know below, which are some of your favorite organizations to serve?

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