The Capital Area Food Bank couldn’t do the work of providing access to nutritious food across the Greater Washington region without our amazing volunteers. During 2022 alone, nearly 13,000 volunteers donated their time and labor, logging more than 30,000 hours of work in our warehouse and Urban Demonstration Garden.
Meet two of those volunteers, David and Bonnie, who carve time out of their schedules each month to help provide good food today:
When David Spence moved to Washington a year and a half ago, he was looking at places where he could give back. Among those options was the Capital Area Food Bank.
When weighing how he would donate his time, David says he really liked how well-organized and efficient the food bank is, as well as how both staff and volunteers are so friendly, inclusive and hard working. Now David tallies three to four volunteer shifts each week, logging more than 400 hours in the food bank’s warehouse.
“Working at CAFB, I have learned how many people in such a wealthy region experience real food insecurity and do not know where their next day’s meal will come from,” David says. “I can’t imagine how difficult that would be, and I put myself in those shoes and I want to help.”
During his volunteer shifts, David assembles boxes, packs food items, and sorts donations. He is quick to show new volunteers how to do things to keep operations running smoothly.
“If I see a way I can help a new volunteer or otherwise do something to make a process more efficient, I pitch in,” he says. “When I’m filling boxes at the belt, I use any slow time to break down other people’s boxes, open up the cellophane-wrapped pallets or sweep the floor.”
Volunteering has always been a big part of David’s life. In Omaha, he volunteered at Heartland Area Food Bank, and he has mentored Sudanese and Afghan refugees over the years. A cancer survivor, he also raises money for cancer patients and research organizations through an organization he founded.
“I try to empathize and understand what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes and better appreciate what their suffering feels like,” he says. “I feel it is extraordinarily important to try to alleviate others’ suffering, which comes in so many forms.”
Bonnie Jackson has been a Capital Area Food Bank volunteer since 2017, when she began volunteering on Saturdays while employed full time. After pausing during the pandemic, she resumed volunteering earlier this year. During a typical month, Bonnie, who is now retired, logs several volunteer shifts at the food bank.
Bonnie first learned about working with CAFB from her workplace. “There were big boxes for food donations in the hallways and on several floors during a food drive,” she said.
She signed up for a Saturday volunteering shift “and really enjoyed it,” she says. “I liked the other volunteers I worked with, as well as the staff, and all of our volunteer activities ran smoothly.”
Bonnie says she also likes the flexible shift options, and the amount of work that volunteers put in during their shifts. Like David, she volunteers in the main warehouse, sorting donated food, building food boxes, and filling those boxes for clients.
“It amazes me how many people come to the food bank during the work week to volunteer,” Bonnie says. “Each shift has several dozen volunteers of all ages and from all sorts of backgrounds.”
Bonnie previously has volunteered tutoring students in reading, and she regularly signs up to assist with an annual Safeway event serving free Thanksgiving meals at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. She and hundreds of other volunteers together serve nearly 5,000 people.
“I have been blessed with many years of work and opportunities, and now is the time to pay it forward and give back,” she says. “I enjoy giving back to the community. The food bank is a great place for people to volunteer because there is a need for people in the DC area to have access to nutritious food.”