To our amazing volunteers!
Every 2020 retrospective seems to start the same, it was a year like no other! In the volunteer department here at Greater Lansing Food Bank, the past year gave us and the entire organization an even greater appreciation of our volunteers as the heart and soul of what we do. Due to the pandemic, Volunteer Appreciation Week came and went with little fan-fare last year. This year, we hope each and every volunteer who has sorted food, handed food out at distributions, or helped out with our Garden Project knows just how much WE know it couldn’t be done without them!
Like most organizations, we closed our doors to all but essential staff in March of 2020. Because we knew the need in our communities would likely be higher than ever before, staff stepped up to pack emergency food boxes, sort donations, and work mobile food distributions. Trust me when I say our appreciation for volunteers grew by leaps and bounds during this time! All other work stopped in service getting food out the door.
We were so happy, in late May of 2020, to welcome back volunteers in small groups to help with sorting and packing. We reinforced our COVID-19 protocols and tried our very best to make sure everyone stayed separate and safe during their shifts. Gradually, masks, social distance, and disinfectant just became the new norm. We are forever grateful for those volunteers who stepped up in the early days to help feed those in need.
In the fall, we were incredibly fortunate to receive the assistance of the Michigan National Guard to help us assemble kids’ kits (or “backpacks”). With thanks to Lansing Mall, we were able to utilize the old Younkers store to allow for safe distancing and continuous packing. The guard, along with several small groups of volunteers, was able to assemble 10,000-15,000 kits a month for kids in virtual and in-person learning. September through March, we were able to meet this goal and, in the process, met lots of new volunteers, some of whom I bet could build a backpack in their sleep if we asked! We also had the assistance of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at this site, helping us sort thousands of donated seeds and assemble garden-to-go bags.
As we move ahead, we are so thankful to have most of our pre-pandemic, core volunteers back with us, as well as some new friends we met throughout the year. We hope to meet even more caring and dedicated individuals to join our team this year! Shifts for both our warehouse and mobile distributions can be found at our website: https://greaterlansingfoodbank.volunteerlocal.com/volunteer/
This Volunteer Appreciation Week, I want to thank our volunteer family for showing up again and again. Our volunteers reminded us day in and day out that even when we need to be physically apart, this community comes together to step up and make sure those most in need are not alone. I could not be more grateful for and humbled by the work you all do. Our volunteers are truly the best of us. I feel very privileged and lucky to work with every one of you! On behalf of the entire Greater Lansing Food Bank team, THANK YOU for helping us feed those in need, no matter what challenges we face. In gratitude,
Volunteer Program Manager
Greater Lansing Food Bank