For National Volunteer Week 2022 (April 24–30th), Food Banks Canada is continuing to salute some of the sensational volunteers from across the network of foods banks and provincial associations.
Did you know that approximately 40 per cent of food banks nationally are entirely run by volunteers? From sorting food donations to driving and “swamping,” to providing specialized skills such as carpentry or marketing, the thousands of food bank volunteers putting #EmpathyInAction are pivotal to ending hunger in Canada.
Volunteers Bring Heart to Canada’s Communities
In Alberta, Marilyn and Jon Been told us volunteering with Edmonton’s Food Bank is how they contribute to a more vibrant and inclusive community.
When they first started volunteering on the food bank’s sorting line a few years ago, Marilyn said conversation among the volunteers helped them see the world through the eyes of others.
“We would joke around and laugh, talk about where this person went on holidays and how many grandkids they have, and you’re still busy sorting, but you’re getting to know people,” she said.
Currently, the husband-and-wife volunteer as a driver and “swamper” for the food bank, respectively, doing twice-a-week donation pickups and drop offs at local schools, businesses and depots.
“The driver is the boss, and the swamper is the gopher,” Marilyn said of their different roles.
“One of the only times!” Jon added with a laugh.
Having now logged hundreds of hours, the Beens said volunteering for their local food bank in retirement continues to be a beneficial and eye-opening experience.
“You’re always on the move, you’re always going somewhere,” Jon said. “I really like the variety.”
“When you first go to volunteer, you don’t realize all the stuff that’s involved in running a food bank,” Marilyn said. “Even the people on the sorting line—without them, we’d be hooped!
For Southern Vancouver Island resident Kurt Hollstein, the Goldstream Food Bank is keeping him busy even at the age of 95.
Mr. Hollstein clocked 750 hours of volunteer time last year alone, in large part due to his involvement in the local food bank, where he spends several hours sorting donation boxes every Saturday morning.
Raised during the Great Depression, Mr. Hollstein said supporting food banks as an essential part of the Canadian social support system has become his “top priority.”
“I’m volunteering to set an example,” Mr. Hollstein said. “I say—and these are my famous words—I’d sooner burn out than rust out.”
According to our 2021 Food Banks Canada Network Survey, more than one in three food banks did not have enough volunteers last year. To find out how you can help fill the urgent need for more volunteers, visit our website at https://foodbankscanada.ca/how-you-can-help/.
Do you know another amazing food bank volunteer we should get in touch with? Email email@example.com.