Volunteers power the Harry Chapin Food Bank

Sharon Tuite volunteers with the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida a couple of times a week.

It makes her feel good to feed Southwest Florida families.

“I just like helping out the community,” Tuite said.

Tuite is one of more than 7,300 people who volunteered their time during the last year to help power the Harry Chapin Food Bank. Volunteers help keep costs low, making the money you donate to our March to a Million Meals, go much further.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people volunteer, but it’s also fueled their passion for feeding Southwest Florida.

“They just really need the food, they are living paycheck to paycheck and this just really helps them, in a small way,” Tuite said.

It’s why Doug and Karen Souder give their time.

“My dad became a minister when we were kids and my dad brought me into that giving spirit and so we help wherever we can in the areas that we’re in,” Souder said.

The volunteers are the backbone of the food bank.

“They are the secret recipe to our financial soundness,” said Barbara Evans, the chief development officer with the Harry Chapin Food Bank.

Between 300 and 400 volunteers help staff the food bank each week, donating their time and helping the food bank save $1.5 million in direct labor costs.

Volunteers pack food kits in the warehouse and break down large food donations into smaller, family-sized portions. They also make sure the millions of pounds of food in the warehouse find their way to the mobile pantry and into the hands of neighbors in need.

“We simply can’t do what we do without their help,” Evans said. “We love, love our volunteers.”

Those volunteers make your donated dollar go further.

As part of our March to a Million Meals, We are asking for your help to raise $400,000 by March 1. If you want to donate, head to the WINK Feeds Families website.

Reporter:Lois Thome
Writer:Melissa Montoya
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