The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

May 11, 2013

Youths will be volunteering at Loaves & Fishes

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — A chance to volunteer and benefit a worthy cause will be available June 8.

Volunteers will be two shifts — 9 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m. — at the food pantry Loaves & Fishes of Northwest Oklahoma.

Volunteer coordinator Jennifer Kisling called volunteering a rewarding experience, and said Loaves & Fishes is excited to offer an opportunity different from day-to-day operations.

“During normal pantry hours, youths ages 15 and older may volunteer, but on volunteer day, everyone is welcome, and we will have jobs for the smallest hands,” Kisling said.

The day will be flexible for those who work. Groups may work together, and all level of skills are encouraged to lend a hand, she said.

“As a volunteer-driven organization, we need days like this one from time to time, to accomplish the big projects that we don’t have time to cover during our regular hours of operation,” Kisling said.

A free T-shirt and lunch will be provided to all volunteers. The workday is sponsored by Triangle Insurance and Central National Bank. However, space is limited.

Groups must register by May 31 to participate in the event. Call Loaves & Fishes (580) 540-9830 to reserve a group spot, she said.

Kisling said a variety of jobs will be available for volunteers to do. Younger people may be unloading groceries, picking up trash or sweeping the building. Older volunteers will perform a variety of tasks, such as re-arranging the pantry, which involves unloading the shelves, moving them and restocking them. There always is general cleaning to be done, she said.

“We have a phenomenal group of volunteers, but we can always use more,” Kisling said. “We’re feeding more and more people each month as they come in the door asking for assistance. We can always use more, especially with summer coming on and people taking vacations. We need people to fill in.”

Kisling said volunteers are helping fight hunger in northwest Oklahoma, regardless of the job they do. Those who unload trucks and those who mop the floors all have a part in fighting hunger.

“They can all say in my own way I helped fight hunger,” Kisling said.

There are about 100 regular volunteers now who frequent the pantry, from once a month to several times a week. Kisling hopes the volunteer day will expose more people to the organization and the food pantry. She hopes the more they are in front of the community, the more volunteers they will have. Numbers of clients vary somewhat, but most months, there are between 1,200 and 1,500 people receiving food.

People respond well to the self-choice concept of the food pantry.

“It’s a treat to walk in and see people who haven’t been there before and see their eyes get big,” Kisling said. “It’s exciting to choose your own food instead of being handed a bag. We get to know our clients and can provide food for special needs like low sodium and low fat.”