Last night DJ and I volunteered at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. In lieu of spending a ton of money on each other, and buying flowers that are going to die, D.J. and I decided to give our love to others, and give back for Valentines Day. Every Wednesday, from 6-8 P.M., the Food Bank offers volunteer sessions for folks to come in and perform various tasks around the warehouse, like sorting eggs or sweet potatoes!
Volunteering at the Food Bank never fails to amaze me. The Food Bank distributed 11.7 million pounds of fresh produce in their 2011-2012 fiscal year – most of which was sorted by volunteers. In 2011, volunteers logged over 157,000 hours, which is equivalent to 70 full time employees. With the help of all of the volunteers sorting food, and holding food drives, as well as the generous support of companies like Food Lion, Walmart and even Mount Olive Pickles, the Food Bank is able to help the over 560,000 individuals that are at risk for hunger in the 34 communities served by the food bank.
Last night, we sorted sweet potatoes. When we walked in there were three HUGE boxes worth full of donations people made, dropped off a few bags, then we went back to the warehouse, we put on our gloves, grabbed some bags and picked a big ‘ol crate of potatoes. D.J. and I got white sweet potatoes for our first bin. When sorting potatoes, we are to examine each potato in the crate, and see if they are okay to give away to families in need and soup kitchens. We were instructed to check for soft spots, and brown spots (it happens with fresh produce). If the potatoes pass the inspection, we then put them into family size bags, and into another box that is then sorted again and given to the families who need them. There is also another box, for potatoes that don’t quite make the cut. Out of that giant crate of potatoes, I think maybe only 50 were too icky to be given to families. Amazing.
Throughout the night, we moved from bin to bin, sorting and bagging as many potatoes as we could. While we were there, we saw at least six crates emptied and bagged. Folks were just moving from bin to bin, socializing and sorting. It was such a happy, heart-warming experience. To see all these folks from all different walks of life, coming into the Food Bank, on a Wednesday night, and helping out those in need and doing some good.
We met some pretty wonderful people – but when don’t I meet wonderful people when I am at the Food Bank. There were two groups that come once a month, with other folks from work (or a club) and volunteer.
If you are looking to volunteer at the Food Bank, check their website for dates and times, and for any upcoming food drives. Every time you volunteer, you’re helping those in need, and it feels good to give back. Volunteer information from the Food Bank can be found here.
I can’t wait to go back next month and volunteer again. I’m thinking that this might be a birthday week thing – yeah, I’m a birthday WEEK kinda girl. I can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday. There isn’t much (other than my family) that gives me joy, like being at the Food Bank.