November 24, 2017
Shared from San Antonio Express-News Business Reporter
Food Bank volunteer finds sense of purpose, camaraderie
Janet McDaniel pulled handfuls of cans and food out of big green bins at the San Antonio Food Bank. Surrounded by a flurry of activity, the 70-year-old San Antonio resident moved deftly through the bustling mass of USAA volunteers to the sorting tables in the middle.
One volunteer held up a bottle of vegetable oil and asked for help; another asked where the coffee went. Each time McDaniel was there to lend her knowledge, helping keep the volunteers and their flurry of activity on track.
McDaniel raised two children with husband Bill, who led the move to San Antonio while in the Air Force. McDaniel began doing volunteer work after she retired in 2005 and found that the 40-acre farm she and her husband had bought didn’t give her enough to do.
One nonprofit that she aided became too reliant on the volunteers; McDaniel said that if she missed a week, the work would pile up, and she didn’t like the lack of flexibility.
McDaniel came to the Food Bank in 2010. She happened to show up on a Tuesday, the same day the Food Bank’s Apple Corps., a dedicated group of volunteers, were there. Soon she joined their ranks.
“You’re not only giving back to the community,” she said, “but you form friendships with the people that you work with.
“I think the thing that appealed to me the most was the flexibility,” she said. “We are here every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, but if you go on vacation or you don’t feel well or you have a commitment out of town … you just don’t come, but you know that there’s going to be other people to pick up the slack, and I always appreciate that. One less person won’t mess things up.”
Some days, McDaniel says, the Apple Corps. volunteers will walk in and be the only ones there; other days there could be 125 volunteers filling the atrium and preparing to go into the sorting room.
On days when large groups of volunteers are helping and the Apple Corps. volunteers are there, the experienced group is able to take on some of the processing and instructing of the new volunteers, McDaniel said, giving administrators time for paperwork and other duties.
A spirit of giving permeates McDaniel’s family. She said that during Christmas, rather than giving gifts to each other, family members combine money into a single amount to donate to an organization.
The volunteer work that McDaniel does at the Food Bank gives her a sense of purpose, she says, even though the organization doesn’t generally hand out food where she volunteers on the Southeast Side.
While she doesn’t usually see the direct impact — those in need receiving food — the stories volunteers can hear when going through orientation can be heartbreaking, she says.
“One of the stories they share is children wondering, ‘We had to give up the family pet, am I next?’” she said. “A child will say this, so what is going to happen to the rest of the family? So it impacts the little ones, and those are the ones I think you think about the most because child hunger is a big, big issue.”
McDaniel says that some of the biggest issues the Food Bank can face are lower stocks of food in the months after major food drives in May and November, and a lack of a steady stream of volunteers.
She encouraged anyone who has thought about volunteering to give it a shot, stressing that the organization offers flexibility.
“Signing up for a volunteer shift at the Food Bank is painless,” McDaniel said. “I urge people to come out and give it a try. It’s not a long-term commitment — if you don’t like it after one or two tries, if you don’t like the schedule … there’s no commitment.”
Original article can be read at http://www.expressnews.com/business/article/Food-Bank-volunteer-finds-sense-of-purpose-12381084.php