The Volunteer Connection October 2017

Mediaon October 2nd, 2017Comments Off on The Volunteer Connection October 2017

The rattle of grocery cart wheels is a familiar sound in the Freestore Foodbank’s Customer Connection Center Food Room located in the Over the Rhine area in Cincinnati.  Longtime volunteer, Bernice Woodard has become very accustomed to it over the years.  After 21 years as an employee at the Freestore, Bernice retired from her official duties in 2014. But you wouldn’t know it, as she still volunteers down in the Food Room almost every day.

“There’s just no better place to be, than down here helping people,” says Bernice, and helping people she does.   Out of the Freestore Foodbank’s 400 plus community partners across the tristate, the Food Room serves as its largest and one of the longest running.  A food pantry at its core, everyone is welcomed into the Food Room which serves upwards of 300 individuals and families every single day.

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“Back when I started, we served maybe 150 people a day, and every client got the same thing,” Bernice said.  However, as the Food Room has grown over the years, so have the options.  Today it operates like a small grocery store in many respects.  The food is separated by food group and clients can now have their pick, including fresh produce and meat based on their dietary needs.  However, making these foods available to the public takes a lot of work behind the scenes.

Bernice, along with other Food Room volunteers, stays busy going through the plethora of food donations that come into the Food Room each month. And though it varies by month, the Food Room receives and processes over 1,000,000 lbs. of food every single year.   Each item is individually inspected to make sure that it meets USDA guidelines before it is sent out to be stocked on the shelves for the Food Room customers, many of which are incredibly grateful.  “Some people really need it,” Bernice said, describing times over the years when clients have thanked her for her help with tears in their eyes.

For many, the customer interaction aspect is what makes volunteering in the Food Room a great and unique experience.  Regardless of whether the client is a regular visitor or someone who drops in occasionally during Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday meal giveaways, the fact that you are able to directly see who you are serving makes the work more meaningful.

The Food Room relies on volunteers like Bernice in order meet the needs of its customers.  In 2016, more than 550 reoccurring volunteers, along with over 20 corporate and civic groups logged more than 22,000 service hours in the Food Room.  Because of this combined effort the Food Room was able to provide a little over 1,300,000 meals and feed more than 75,000 people!  However, the work is never done and every day more volunteers are needed to meet the ongoing demand.

Whether you are an individual like Bernice who is just looking to make a difference, a small civic or corporate group (ideally, 5-10 individuals) who are looking to give back, or anyone in-between , there are plenty of ways that you can help at the Freestore Foodbank Food Room!

For more information about volunteering at the Customer Connection Center Food Room, please email our Volunteer Services Department at volunteer@freestorefoodbank.org or call (513) 482-7550.

WHAT’S NEXT?

With Fall in the air and the holidays around the corner, volunteers are needed to bring comfort and joy to our community.

The 1st Annual OTR Community Health Fair – Saturday, October 28th
We are partnering with Rothenberg Preparatory Academy and The Christ Hospital to host our 1st Annual Community Health Fair. There will be health screenings for blood pressure, BMI, glucose for diabetes, EKG, ECHO and referrals to a clinic (if necessary). There will also be 20 minute education classes on tobacco cessation, healthy eating, and diabetes/cholesterol. All ages are welcome to attend. Volunteers are needed to assist with pre-event setup, event setup, in event support, and event breakdown. To learn more and to sign up to volunteer click on the following link: OTR Community Health Fair Volunteer

Coat Day Distribution – Saturday, October 28th
Help keep families warm during the cold winter months by assisting with the distribution of coats to families at our Customer Connection Center. You can also help prepare for the big day by sorting and steaming coats beginning on October 16 through October 25 and event set-up on October 27. We will be accepting coat donations until October 24th at the Customer Connection Center on E. Liberty Street. For more information or to sign up to volunteer click on the following link: Coat Drive Volunteer

Check Out Hunger – Wednesday, November 15 – Tuesday, January 2
Adopt a Kroger store and assist with maintaining the placards (coupon holders) and tear coupons located at each checkout counter and UScan station. This campaign gives customers a convenient way to give to the Freestore as they pay for their groceries.  This is a flexible volunteer activity and can be done on your own time. It’s a great way to get your family involved even with a full work or school schedule. Sign up today!  I’m a Check Out Hunger Volunteer

Doubling Dollars on Double Your Dollars Day – Wednesday, November 8th
We will kick-off the holiday season with our Sixth Annual Double Your Dollars Day campaign.  Thanks to our community partners, every dollar donated to the Freestore Foodbank that day will be matched allowing us to feed twice as many Tri-State children and families! Volunteers are needed to answer phones and complete the one page payment forms. Come out and join us… Double Your Dollars Volunteer

Cincinnati Bengals Food DriveTackle Hunger at the 31st Annual Bengals Canned Food Drive – Sunday, November 26th
We are teaming up again with the Cincinnati Bengals for the 31st Annual Bengals Canned Food Drive on Sunday, November 26th at Paul Brown Stadium.  Last year, food and monetary donations received through this event helped us to provide more than 71,000 meals to hungry children and families in the community.  Help us tackle hunger by collecting monetary and food donations before the game.  I’m a Bengals Food Drive Volunteer

Holiday Food Box Distribution

  • Monday, November 20 – Wednesday, November 22
  • Wednesday, December 20 – Friday, December 22

Over 1,000 volunteers are needed to distribute food boxes that will provide a family with the gift of a holiday meal.  Come by yourself or with family, friends, and/or co-workers and help us provide a meal for families this holiday season.  Holiday Food Box Distribution Volunteer

Ongoing Volunteer Opportunities

Check out the volunteer registration and information page to learn how to sign up to volunteer for our ongoing group and individual volunteer opportunities at the Mayerson Distribution Center, Customer Connection Center’s Food Room, and Giving Fields.

Other Ways You Can Help

Become a Family’s Donor
Share in the spirit of the holidays by helping other families enjoy the season. Become a donor and purchase gifts for one of our Freestore Foodbank families that participate in our Housing, Direct Rent and Shelter Diversion programs.  Adopt – A – Family is an annual program that helps over 200 families during the holidays. Your generosity will provide a great sense of value and worth to these families and clearly demonstrates in a meaningful way that others really care about them.  For more information about adopting a family or helping with gift purchases, please email: adoptafamily@freestorefoodbank.org or call 513-720-6099.

Donations of canned goods are needed all year around, not just at the holidays! If you
would like to organize a canned food drive, please contact Bob Barnes at 513-482-4517.


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Thank you to the following groups for your support in September 2017!
We sincerely appreciate their continued support and contribution of their time.

Mayerson Distribution Center (Tennessee Avenue)

Baker Law
Bank of America
Bobbie B. Fairfax School
Celanese
Cincinnati Bell
Cincinnati Kiwanis
Cintas
Clorox
Executive Jet Management
Fifth Third
Fusion Alliance
GFP Kiwanis-Rapach
Kerry Automotive
La Salle High School
Lambda Chi
Michelman
Moeller High School
Musillo Unkenholt
Old Navy
Park National Bank
Paycor
Pepsi Beverage Co.
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church
Procter and Gamble
PromoSpark
Redeemer Church
Rochester Institute of Technology
Smucker
St. Margaret Knights of Columbus
St. Susanna School
St. Xavier High School
The Gathering
Tri-State Freethinkers
Turner Construction
UBS
University of Cincinnati
US Bank
Western Southern Financial

Giving Fields (Melbourne, KY)

Amazon
American Modern Insurance Group
Atricure Finance
Bottom Line Systems
Celanese
Chobani
Fifth Third
Girl Scouts
Great American Insurance Group
Guardian Angels
Heritage Bank
Ipsos
Michelman
Pepsi Beverage Co.
Perfetti van Melle USA
Pfizer
Procter and Gamble
Starbucks
Tri-State Freethinkers
University Of Cincinnati Hospital
Xavier University

Food Room (Liberty Street)

AMIG Billing Buds
Gap
Procter and Gamble