Last year, 1,847 people volunteered 48,510 hours at Neighbors, Inc. – that’s the equivalent of 25 full-time staff people (nearly double what the organization currently employs). Without these individuals, Neighbors wouldn’t be able to provide the services it does to those in need in the community.

In many ways, volunteers serve as the hands of the organization. They gather, sort, produce, fill, empty, clasp and hold. It’s safe to say that nearly all of the food or clothing that goes out our doors has passed through the hands of a volunteer. The majority of our volunteers work in one of two areas – the food shelf or the Clothes Closet Thrift Store. Two shifts of volunteers staff the food shelf five days a week, and two to three shifts of volunteers ensure the Clothes Closet is open to the public six days a week.

A fun mix of personalities, our volunteers have come to Neighbors for a variety of reasons. Many are retired and were looking for something to do; some because their parents did so; others just want to give back to their community. A few came with a friend; others heard about the need for volunteers at church; some have reasons they’ve never shared. Whatever the reason, every volunteer makes a difference and is appreciated. Each brings their unique talents, experience and perspectives to the table, and the combination makes Neighbors a stronger, more vibrant organization.

Over the next few months, we will highlight the work that volunteers do at Neighbors on a daily basis. To start, here’s a look at what happens on an average Monday in the food shelf, courtesy of – you guessed it – one of our amazing volunteers!

Mondays in the food shelf

Just a few of our Monday morning food shelf volunteers!

Just a few of our Monday morning food shelf volunteers!

The Monday morning shift at the food shelf is very busy! Drivers go all over picking up donations from stores and bakeries to bring in extra produce, baked goods and more left from the weekend. Once it’s dropped off at Neighbors, other volunteers sort and categorize everything, in addition to helping clients shop. As with many of the shifts, this crew has built a great camaraderie and enjoys their time together – not surprising when each member of the team has been helping Neighbors for at least a year, and some as long as 33! Volunteers include: Jim S., John M., Greg S., John M., Linda M., Jackie R., Len T., Diane M., Del G., Bill K., Jane K., Marilyn E., Keith S., Mike M., Dave W. and Tom C.

Monday afternoons are always busy, as well. The crew includes Linda G., Gary C., Monica J., Dianna H., Sarah F., Gary O. and Mary Lou J., and one of their favorite activities is helping clients with their shopping.

All but one of the Monday afternoon crew.

All but one of the Monday afternoon crew.

Why do they do it? This group’s reasons for volunteer at Neighbors ranged from church involvement to finding our brochures at the library to the ease of signing up! They have also made new friends, have fun and find satisfaction in how they are spending their time.

How do they feel at the end of their shift? Besides tired (these volunteers work hard!), they feel helpful, needed and fortunate.

A big thank you to these – and all – our volunteers! If you’re interested in giving of your time and talents, click here to learn about Neighbors’ volunteer opportunities.