Feeding Westchester, the county’s largest nonprofit hunger-relief organization, marked National Volunteer Week, this year from April 18-24, with a volunteer appreciation “drive-thru” recognizing a handful of those who have been able to donate their time and talents. The nonprofit, which continues to meet elevated demand due to the pandemic, is also challenging the community to create an additional 10,000 Help From Home Bags by June 30, 2021 through virtual volunteerism.
In addition to Feeding Westchester’s 54 full-time staff is additional part-time help and a group of 30 in person volunteers — down from the 11,000 volunteers that, prior to COVID-19, traditionally cycled through the nonprofit’s doors. The recent appreciation event honored these individuals with a thank you meal.
“Although the pandemic has necessitated a major shift in how we can engage our volunteers, it has only heightened our need for these incredible individuals,” said Nancy Lyons, Feeding Westchester’s Director of Volunteer Services. “For the few that we’ve been able to have on-site, to the many who have continued to contribute from home, we are incredibly grateful for their dedication and commitment to get fresh, nutritious food into the hands of those most in need.”
Among those currently volunteering in the Feeding Westchester distribution center is Mount Vernon resident Elisheba Williams, who has been donating her time to the organization for more than a decade.
“From the first day that I volunteered with Feeding Westchester, I could tell that this was something special; they are doing great work for people in need,” said Williams. “Knowing that my time and contributions makes a real difference has kept me volunteering year-after-year. Ending hunger is not easy, but at Feeding Westchester they are doing it one family at a time. The opportunity was originally introduced to me ten years ago through an employee giveback program with my former employer, Pepsico. To date, my time, dedication and passion is still heartfelt and I try to volunteer as much as possible through similar programs with my current employer, Mastercard, and through volunteering with the American Red Cross. Every opportunity is impactful and each moment is priceless. There is no greater passion than helping those in need.”
While in person opportunities are limited during the pandemic, Feeding Westchester has several Meals 4 Neighbors virtual volunteering projects on feedingwestchester.org. Designed to try at home, with co-workers or a local community group, these projects range from packing breakfast or lunch sacks for school-aged children to hosting a virtual food drive.
Feeding Westchester’s Help From Home program, which launched over the holiday season and continues through the spring and summer months, has provided more than 20,000 bags of food to its nearly 300 partners and programs for distribution. The nonprofit is now challenging the community to create an additional 10,000 bags by June 30, 2021 to support the ongoing need of Westchester residents facing hunger. All bags can be assembled at home and dropped off at Feeding Westchester in Elmsford. For details on what to include, visit https://bit.ly/3x9ZwMJ.
“Our mission today is the same as it has always been – we nourish our neighbors in the fight against hunger,” said Lyons. “Volunteers like Elisheba, as well as all those who participate remotely, make that mission possible no matter the challenges we face.”
Every $1 donated to Feeding Westchester provides up to three meals for local children, seniors, and families struggling with hunger. To find help, or give help, visit feedingwestchester.org or call (914) 923-1100.For the latest news and updates, follow @FeedingWestchester on Facebook and Instagram and @FeedWestchester on Twitter.