Local food pantries in major need of volunteers after holiday season

Local News

(WTVO) — Volunteering at local non-profit organizations is a tradition for many families around the holiday season. But once the calendar flips to the new year, many volunteers start to lose steam.

Organizers tell us that extra help is especially needed after the season of giving.

“I think at the holiday time, people are enthused and they think about it,” said Jim McFarlane, the volunteer coordinator for Rock River Valley Food Pantry.

McFarlane says the non-profit normally has more than enough manpower to get by during Thanksgiving and Christmas, but when January rolls around each year, it becomes much more difficult to find volunteers.

“The rest of the time, they don’t necessarily think about it, and our volunteer hours go down,” McFarlane added,

The work at the pantry doens’t stop in the new year. Long time volunteer Vivian Johnson predicts 2021 will be busier than ever.

“I volunteer because there’s a need. I’ve been here [for] about 14 years, and over the years, I’ve seen an increased need. Especially with the pandemic, we’ve had an overflow of people on some days,” Johnson explained.

COVID-19 is also convincing some of those who traditionally help fill in the gap after the holidays, to rethink their decision to volunteer.

“Most of our volunteers are elderly. And most of them don’t want to be exposed. So I would say there is a shortage,” Johnson said.

They both urge anyone who is healthy and able to consider volunteering at their local food pantry. They say any help is welcome right now.

“I volunteer on a regular basis every Monday. But they have hours for morning or afternoon, so there are a lot of things you could do to come out and help,” Johnson added.

“We would not be able to survive without our volunteers,” concluded McFarlane.

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