What brought me to volunteering at the Pantry was my desire to give back to my community and help those in need. But what surprised me is that a big part of what keeps me coming back each week is the inspiration and energy I get from my fellow volunteers: neighbors of all ages and backgrounds who selflessly give their time and skills, week in and week out. Senior citizens, teenagers and everyone in between who commit to hauling boxes of food, setting up tables, vacuuming the church, and most importantly, offering those who come to us for food a smiling face and an ear to listen.
Our 100% volunteer-run organization distributes food at South Presbyterian Church on Wednesdays from 10-12, but there are many, many more of hours during the rest of the week when dozens of volunteers work behind the scenes to make those two hours happen.
- On Monday mornings we have a group of 5-6 volunteers who meet at the church to receive a pallet of canned food from Feeding Westchester. Those boxes need to be lugged into the church, opened, emptied and put away on shelves. Then the boxes need to be broken down and recycled. In the evening, we have a different crew of 6-8 volunteers who set up a boxing station and build and fill between 120-160 boxes of non-perishable foods to be given out on Wednesday. This crew stays about 2-3 hours filling boxes, restocking inventory and cleaning up after themselves so that the church barely knows that we were there.
- On Tuesday mornings volunteers receive a weekly order from Driscoll’s, food items that we pay for using the generous donations we receive from the community. On Tuesday evenings, yet another group of volunteers meet at the church to sort and bag up another 120-160 bags of fresh produce that we get from sources such as Green Thumb from Feeding Westchester, Fable Farm, Temple Beth-Shalom, and even small donations from local community gardens. Another volunteer picks up donations from New York Bagel Authority in Dobbs Ferry, another from Panera Bread in Scarsdale. and yet another from The Shop in Ardsley. A father/son team stop by Mom’s Organic Market to load our refrigerators and freezer with dairy items generously donated by the store.
- At various times throughout the week and the month, duties include picking up donations from Stop & Shop, attending a bi-weekly meeting with Feeding Westchester, posting to the Pantry’s social media sites, writing and posting this newsletter, keeping track of our finances and drumming up more donations – both food and cash (and then thanking said donors!).
- On Wednesday mornings volunteers start showing up at 8:30 in the morning to set up tables, bring out food, greet clients who start lining up around the same time, and in inclement weather, set up tents. We have a group of three who organize and sort about 40 deliveries each week to be dropped off at the homes of clients who are not able to make it to the church on Wednesdays and another 5-7 drivers who bring the boxed and bagged food to their doorsteps. We have one volunteer who sorts and packages diapers to be given to our littlest clients. And still others who sort, organize and put away donations left in our bin or delivered to us by groups such as the Scarsdale Women’s Club and Ardsley Methodist Church.
The most important part of the whole operation, in my opinion, happens at noon on Wednesdays. After all of our clients have left with their edibles, we sit as a team of volunteers and discuss what worked, what didn’t, and what we can do better next week. We determine what we’ll need to order for the following week, who will do the ordering, shopping, picking up of what’s needed. We staff out this complex and dynamic schedule of weekly needs. And we congratulate each other on another successful week of hard work and dedication and fulfilling our mission of feeding our neighbors in need.
This week we served 132 families or 488 neighbors and added two new families to our list. Our most needed items this week are diapers (size 6), macaroni and cheese, and rice (1 lb bags).
This week’s newsletter was written by the Pantry Co-Director, Gretchen Skaggs, who knows that no one has made it through life without someone else’s help.