At the Food Bank of Delaware, we always say – and we mean it – “Volunteers are the heart and soul of our organization.”
Last year, we had 16,348 volunteer visits, almost the equivalent of 19 full-time staff.
While some people volunteer individually, many of our volunteers walk through our doors as part of a civic group or workplace-initiated connection. Chesapeake Utilities Corporation exemplifies a corporation that has a strong and continuing commitment to the Food Bank of Delaware.
They are the folks who provide a partnership, financial and hands-on support, for some of our largest initiatives, such as Thanksgiving for All, a holiday program that distributes 1,000 complete meals to families in Kent and Sussex counties.
Mike McMasters, Chesapeake’s president and CEO for 35 years, is always on the frontline of these volunteer programs. He started with the very first Holiday Cares in 2012, and that program has since expanded into Thanksgiving for All.
“I’m proud to say that we’ve grown the number of meals significantly to help provide for Delaware families. Personally, I’ve been involved in packaging and distributing holiday meals every year since,” he said.
Distributing these meals requires teamwork, and some Chesapeake employees bring family members to volunteer too.
Another Chesapeake executive, Elaine Bittner, senior vice president of strategic development for 20 years, has also pitched in at Thanksgiving for All, helping distribution in downtown Dover. In addition, she’s done volunteer shifts at our Milford branch, and she’s recruited her daughters’ help too.
“At Chesapeake, we care about the communities we serve, and our team really enjoys making those personal connections with our customers and neighbors. During Thanksgiving for All, our employees can see the people that we are helping,” she said.
Steve Thompson, Chesapeake’s senior vice president, has not only been a dedicated member of our board of directors, he’s also a familiar face anytime that Chesapeake employees volunteers. He’s packed, sorted, cleaned distribution coolers, and says he enjoys all the tasks.
He admits to some frustration, though.
“If there was a negative from my experiences, I would have to say it has been seeing the amount of need there is throughout Delaware, and not being able to do more toward reducing hunger in the state,” he said.
Thompson’s rationale for volunteering at the Food Bank of Delaware echoes the sentiments of some others who give their time to help reduce food-insecurity.
“I’ve been very fortunate in my life. I have never had to worry about where my next meal was coming from or whether my children would have sufficient food. I feel it is my responsibility, both personally and as a member of Chesapeake’s leadership team, to help make a difference in other people’s lives, giving back to the communities where we live and serve,” he said.
The Food Bank of Delaware is very grateful for the relationship we have developed with Chesapeake Utilities. We encourage other businesses, and their employees, to help with our hunger-relief efforts. Visit www.fbd.org to learn how you can volunteer too.