Volunteers at heart of Gleaners Food Bank mission

INDIANAPOLIS - Feeding hungry families in central and southern Indiana wouldn't be possible without the many volunteers who give their time every year to help Gleaners Food Bank sort and pack food.

Each year, more than 1,000 corporate groups, including RTV6, help out at Gleaners.

Vicky Haley started volunteering at Gleaners through FedEx Cares Day at work six years ago. About 150 FedEx employees take part each year, spending a day of their time to help feed Indiana's hungry.

"I love doing this. I feel like I've been blessed," Haley said. "We're not always promised that we're going to have economic stability, but when we do, it's good to bless others with what we can give to them."

Gleaners depends on more than 20,000 volunteers who put in more than 70,000 hours sorting food, helping to assemble sacks of food to go home with children on weekends and help the 5,000 families each month who come to the Community Cupboard pantry.

"Volunteers are critical to the mission at Gleaners Food Bank. In fact, they're the heart and the hands of everything we do," said Robert Wilson, Gleaners' director of foundation relations. "If it wasn't for the volunteers, my colleagues and I would have to be raising another $1.3 million annually."

The need is higher than ever, with newly released statistics showing one in eight people in central and southern Indiana currently relying on Gleaners and the food banks it serves. That motivates Haley even more.

"You have that volunteer spirit, but you also know you're helping the community," she said. "You never know if it's going to be you that needs that help someday. So, it's a really good feeling."

Volunteer Maureen Kinney is part of Gleaners Amplifiers Group. They work to share Gleaners' story in person and through social media channels. She said a great first step for people who want to help is to go to their website and learn how to get the word out.

Gleaners is always looking for more volunteers, from individuals to large groups. Up to 200 volunteers can be accommodated per shift.

Here is information on volunteering at Gleaners, and here's how you can donate.

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