Volunteers find unexpected rewards helping at the Food Bank

January 25, 2021

At the Food Bank of Delaware, our mantra is “Volunteers are our heart and soul.” It’s important that volunteers share their “why” to encourage others, and it’s important for us to say “Thank you. The people we serve appreciate your generous gifts of time and talent.”

Last year, we had 17,166 volunteer visits for a total of 49,000 donated hours. This is the equivalent of almost 24 full-time staff members!

On a recent Wednesday morning at our Milford site, a volunteer crew packed and sorted food products that will be distributed to hungry Delawareans, and part of the process is not only filling boxes, but also assembling, stacking, labelling. As the saying goes, many hands lighten the load, as do the camaraderie, friendly banter, and background music.

Among those were Tom Fieweger, a Lewes retiree, and Dave Snyder, a retiree from Lincoln, who agree the time they volunteer at the Food Bank has far exceeded any expectations. Since they typically volunteer three mornings a week, they’ve become friends.

“I’ve always given treasure,” said Mr. Fieweger, formerly of West Chester, Pa., but after retiring he discovered he also had time to give. “I never had flexible hours, and this an easy schedule.” He said he had tried volunteering for other non-profits, but “this really stuck.” Why? Mr. Fieweger, an avid golfer, says he enjoys the physical part of the job: lifting and moving boxes, helping others who aren’t able to lift. And he likes spending time with other volunteers.

So does Mr. Snyder, a self-described hermit. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, he volunteered at an animal shelter, but those opportunities became limited. “Too much free time is not good,” he said. “I thought I’d give it a shot. I like the routine. It can get physical, but that shouldn’t be a limitation. I’ve been fortunate, and what I can share is my time.”

Mr. Fieweger praised the other volunteers he’s met, as well as the Food Bank staff. “I like the professionalism here; the volunteers come in here ready to work.”

“We’ve even been able to talk some politics,” noted Mr. Snyder, who likens his volunteer shifts to a work routine. “We’re retired. We get up early, and we’re here from 9 to 12, and that’s enough. I leave, and I feel good about what I’ve done.”

Mr. Fieweger agrees. “I’d rather come here than go to the gym. I look forward to it, the camaraderie.”

“I’d like to see more people come in, but I don’t want them to take our spots,” said Mr. Snyder.

Both volunteers agree that signing up for a shift at www.fbd.volunteerhub.com is a very easy process; shifts often fill quickly, so fast that Mr. Fieweger said he’s registered through April.

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