At least 12.5% of Western Massachusetts residents are living below the poverty line, and that number is growing.
On Monday, December 23, many families took a break from last-minute Christmas shopping to spend time at The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts’ first Holiday Family Volunteer Day at our warehouse in Hatfield. More than 55 people volunteered their time to help sort non-perishable food and fresh produce to be distributed to food pantries and emergency meal sites throughout our region this holiday season.
The multi-generational event was organized by The Food Bank’s Education Coordinator Jerod Shuford and Volunteer Coordinator Erin Sullivan. They promoted the event by posting it in the Hilltown Families newsletter, as well as directly contacting families which previously volunteered at The Food Bank. The response they received was overwhelming, with volunteer slots reaching its maximum capacity in just a few short days.
There were two groups that came in for the event—the first in the morning, and the second in the afternoon. Each group was comprised of approximately 27 people, ranging from kindergarteners to senior citizens. They spent three hours sorting, organizing and packing food that was collected from food drives, donated by Walmart or delivered from Plainville Farms in Hadley. As the younger kids grew tired from all of their hard work, they were able to take a break and spend time coloring and decorating grocery bags to be used to deliver food to local area seniors who participate in our Brown Bag for Elders program, one of the region’s largest feeding programs.
The volunteers were from all parts of Western Massachusetts, including Amherst, South Hadley, Northampton and Williamsburg. One of the volunteers was in town from Clearwater, FL, visiting her daughter for the holidays. The two of them, along with her granddaughter, came to the afternoon session to spend time together and help others in the community.
“With all the kids being off from school this week, it provided a great opportunity for families to come in and participate in an activity that will help put food on someone’s table this Christmas,” explains Jerod Shuford. “We received a lot of positive feedback from all of our volunteers and anticipate seeing a lot of them back here again for other family volunteer days.”
For more information about how you can become a volunteer at The Food Bank, or to see the upcoming schedule of volunteer events, visit our volunteer page.
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