Kitchener-Waterloo·SOUNDS OF THE SEASON

Why people volunteer at The Food Bank of Waterloo Region

CBC Kitchener-Waterloo took a trip to The Food Bank of Waterloo Region recently to chat with people about why they volunteer and what keeps them coming back.

'Some of my great memories are how people appreciate what you do,' Murray Holtzworth says

Murray Holtzworth of Tavistock has been volunteering at The Food Bank of Waterloo Region for 10 years. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

All month long, CBC Kitchener-Waterloo is raising food and funds for The Food Bank of Waterloo Region. Join our live program Dec. 7 at TheMuseum. 

For 10 years, Murray Holtzworth has regularly made the drive from Tavistock to The Food Bank of Waterloo Region to volunteer.

He sorts through donations, including fresh goods delivered by a local bakery, and preps items to be shipped to the various agencies the food bank supports.

He used to volunteer at a store at Ray of Hope, a community centre with social services in Kitchener, but he said they switched the hours over a decade ago "and that didn't suit me too well."

Someone suggested he could help out at the food bank's warehouse. Holtzworth worked for a wholesale grocer for 38 years so he said it's been a good fit.

"I enjoy meeting the people," he said. "Some of my great memories are how people appreciate what you do and another thing for me is helping people that have a lot less than I do."

Donations from the public, like those made at grocery stores or company food drives, are placed in large cardboard bins, then sorted and stored in the warehouse at The Food Bank of Waterloo Region. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

'A way that I can contribute'

In another part of the warehouse, located on Alpine Court in Kitchener, Joe Tangney and Andrea Bender are scanning items and filling orders.

Tangney volunteered for sports organizations his children were part of, and started at the food bank about a year ago.

"Before I started here, I had no idea the extent of the food bank," he admitted.

"You drop some stuff off at the door at the box at a grocery store, but once you get here, the warehouse is huge."

He added he enjoys the people he works with like Bender, who trained him to do food picking.

"Everybody's very friendly and helpful," he said.

Andrea Bender and Joe Tangney were filling orders for dry goods in the warehouse of The Food Bank of Waterloo Region. Both have been volunteers for about a year. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Bender has been volunteering for about a year as well. She helps organize the dry orders for agencies, so items like canned goods, dry pasta and peanut butter.

"I know there's a need for good, healthy food in the community and I just wanted to find a way that I can contribute to supporting that," she said.

"I enjoy week to week just seeing the different things that get donated and dropped off," she said. "The different kinds of foods — the wackier, the more interesting."

She said the food bank has changed, even over the course of the past year. A new on-site food processing facility, called the Fresh Approaches Food Centre, is where volunteers and staff repackage fresh food donations to expand the lifespan of the items.

"It was kind of neat seeing that getting up and running," she said. "I think it was really cool just watching the food bank grow."

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