PANDEMIC BRINGS NEW VOLUNTEERS AS WELL AS A NEED FOR MORE
Donna Rogers first visited the Food Bank with her school group on a Saturday during normal operations. Months later, Donna saw a call for volunteers in the newspaper during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a teacher, she found herself with free time after her classes transitioned online, and she knew right away she wanted to help.
Now, Donna volunteers with the Food Bank four days a week. She experiences how the Food Bank operates first hand and sees how the behind-the-scenes work plays a large part in others’ lives. When asked about her comfort of volunteering during the pandemic, Donna stated, “I don’t see any dangers at all with coming here.”
The safety of our volunteers remains a top priority. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, cleaning and sanitizing the facility has increased. Volunteers have been separated into smaller groups throughout the facility while remaining at least six feet apart from one another. Masks and gloves are required and volunteers get frequent breaks to wash their hands and get fresh gloves. During these breaks, the volunteers have created great relationships with one another and the Food Bank’s staff members.
Another COVID-19 volunteer, Bus Culotta, proud grandfather, encourages everyone to interact with one another. “There are some phenomenal people here,” said Bus. “It’s just a special place.”
His greatest memory was experiencing another volunteer praying over the food boxes before being sent out for distributions. This moment allowed Bus to understand how much of an impact the volunteers have on the Food Bank and on the community.
Bus is a member of the Good Samaritan Foundation. This foundation regularly donates to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. When COVID-19 hit our community, the foundation raised $3,000 to help our operations. Bus delivered the check and realized he could help further by volunteering. Bus retired last year and has been using his free time to volunteer every day, Monday- Friday.
“You don’t realize how big of an operation it is,” Bus said. Donna agrees. “What they do here is tremendous. It feels good to know that you’re helping people in the community.”
When Donna begins to teach again in the fall, her weeks will be full. However, she would like to continue volunteering on Saturdays and during school holidays. She encourages others to “come and see the volunteers, take a tour of the warehouse to meet some of the staff members and see if you are comfortable with volunteering.”
Children will be going back to school, the National Guard’s assistance will be leaving the Food Bank, and the Food Bank will go back to somewhat normal operations soon.
However, the need for food assistance will not decrease. If you are interested in volunteering, please click here to find an opportunity that fits your schedule. Masks are required in the facility while volunteering. If you do not have a mask, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator at 225-359-9940.