Neighbors | Zack Shively .Volunteers of the Second Harvest Food Bank enjoy their food and drinks provided at Volunteer Appreciation Day on Aug. 26. "Our volunteers are our heroes," said Michael Iberis said of them.
Neighbors | Zack Shively .Executive director Michael Iberis giving instructions to help make the Volunteer Day move smoother.
Neighbors | Zack Shively .Second Harvest Food Bank's executive director Michael Iberis chats with a volunteer during the Volunteer Appreciation Day on Aug. 26. These volunteers help the food bank fill nearly 15,000 requests for food weekly.
Neighbors | Zack Shively.The event received catering from Cockeye BBQ. The food was free to the approximately 100 volunteers in attendence.
By ZACK SHIVELY
The Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley celebrated their volunteers by hosting a Volunteer Appreciation Day on Aug. 26 at their facility on Salt Spring Road in Youngstown.
The food bank gave food and drinks to volunteers who have worked with the food bank. They offered the lunch in the break room of their facility. The Cockeye BBQ catered the event, and the Giant Eagle Community Center donated cupcakes for the event. Approximately 100 volunteers attended the event. The volunteers’ duties range from sorting and re-boxing food, answering phones and assisting with the food bank’s programs, such as the Mobile Pantry.
“Our volunteers are our heroes,“ said Michael Iberis, executive director of the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley. To honor this idea, the lunch took on a superhero theme, complete with Spiderman, Batman and Superman centerpieces on the tables. Some volunteers got into the spirit and dressed up as superheroes or wore superhero shirts.
The Food Bank gets help from many different people and groups. The ages of volunteers are from high school students to retirees. The shifts for volunteers run every Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until noon. They also have groups that volunteer Wednesday evenings from 5-7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. until noon.
Linda Dean, a volunteer for two years, describes the experience as positive. She first started volunteering at the food bank once she moved into the area. She said everyone who worked with the food bank and volunteered had been “very welcoming“ and helpful.
These volunteers worked with the food bank for more than 14,000 hours in 2016. That same year, the food bank distributed 10.5 million pounds of food throughout Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties. They fill nearly 15,000 food requests weekly for their 148 hunger-relief programs throughout the tri-county area. These programs, as listed on their website, include “church pantries, homeless shelters and soup kitchens, shelters for battered women and after-school programs that serve families, children, and seniors at risk of hunger.”
The next large event that the food bank will be hosting is the yearly event Taste of the Valley on Oct. 1. They have 22 restaurants that provide food and drinks at Stambaugh Auditorium for the event. Last year, Taste of the Valley brought out 500 supporters and raised more than $50,000, which equates to about 200,000 meals.
For information about volunteering, contact the food bank’s volunteer coordinator Paige Tomlinson Miller at 330-792-5522, ext. 102.
For more information about the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley, visit its website at mahoningvalleysecondharvest.com or call 330-792-5522.