CAVE CREEK – More than 400 volunteers, from 10 years to 93 years old, are the engine that energizes Foothills Food Bank & Resource Center, the most successful food bank in Maricopa County.
According to executive director Pam DiPietro, the food bank’s 400-plus volunteers donated some 28,148 hours in 2015 alone. Without this energetic team of dedicated individuals, Foothills Food Bank would not be able to serve the 41,209 people who received food for the 501c(3) organization last year. The busy food bank disbursed 811,915 pounds of food to its desert foothills clients in 2015.
“Our amazing volunteer core of hard working volunteers is a committed group of people who love helping others in need and who understand what it takes to drive the food bank’s important community outreach efforts forward,” says DiPietro. “Without our volunteers, we would not exist,” she adds.
Foothills Food Bank & Resource Center’s volunteer base performs a number of critical jobs to ensure its clients receive the nutrition and services they need as they progress through difficult times. Here are just a few of those jobs and how they help drive the engine in the right direction every day:
Greeters: these caring people make food bank clients feel welcome and ensure they understand how the food bank works.
Drivers: more than 20 van drivers work seven days a week to collect food in various locations in the valley including local bakeries, Bashas’, Safeway, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and other partners including CVS and numerous churches, schools and small businesses, many of which hold food drives for the food bank.
Donation volunteer: Four volunteers, each day, seven days a week, weigh and sort the food that arrives from the drivers.
Team Leads: these busy individuals, twelve a week, interview each client to review their specific needs, and update their profile for the food they receive once per month.
Packers: every week, 46 volunteers gather the food orders and arrange and “pack’ them for clients to take home.
Exit volunteer: some 12 special people weigh food, including extra perishables, before the client leaves and record the order for the food bank.
Recyclers: four giving people every week pick-up items so they can be recycled.
Scheduler: a daytime scheduler plans work times for 70 volunteers every week.
Toiletries: One special person sorts and bags badly needed toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and brushes, hand cream, soaps and more.
Newsletter: every quarter, the food bank reaches out to donors and clients with updated information about what is happening at Foothills Food Bank & Resource Center.
Snack Pack: the food bank’s Snack Pack program provides needy children with weekend meals; 16-20 volunteers pack the meals so kids in the northern desert foothills communities receive the good nutrition they need to be healthy and productive.
Care Club: twice each month, clients are able to order extra food for a nominal fee.
Stockers: every week, 10 giving individuals stock the shelves to keep inventory ready for clients.
Client Resources: New staff member Robin Kilbane and several volunteers provide other resources, such as food stamp applications, personal financial needs, rent and more for the clients who grace our doors
Other volunteer positions are filled by people who:
– clean and service the food banks vans
– write thank you notes
– record donations
– update a mailing list weekly
– prepare newsletter mailings
– maintain the food bank’s library
– provide other resource, such as food stamp applications, personal financial needs, rent and more for the clients who grace our doors
– pull together food bank statistics
– help with special projects
The Foothills Food Bank & Resource Center’s longest term volunteer to date is Mary Hunkeler; she is 93 years old and began volunteering shortly after the food bank opened. A second volunteer who has been around for nearly 30 years is Claire Steigerwald. She can be seen several days a week taking in donations and recording, stocking shelves and training new volunteers has served the organization since 1988…when it first became a food bank.
It truly does take a village to help neighbors and others in need. It is the power of volunteerism that drives the engine that is Foothills Food Bank & Resource Center.
For more information and to donate, call the Foothills Food Bank & Resource Center at 480.488.1145. The Foothills Food Bank & Resource Center is located at 6038 E. Hidden Valley Drive in Cave Creek. To donate online visit www.foothillsfoodbank.com.