There are so many dedicated, hard-working volunteers at the Marana Community Food Bank that it was tough for Executive Director Linda Hampton to narrow it down to just one to be featured as January’s volunteer of the month.
About 130 active volunteers log a total of 1,100 hours each month at the 2,800-square-foot facility, which is relatively small considering the amount of inventory it is forced to hold to provide for its 2,300 families each month.
“It’s a really small food bank doing a really big job,” said Hampton. “All of our volunteers are very committed here. A lot of them volunteer here because of their own experiences with being hungry, and now they want to give back. There is a lot of comradery between our volunteers – I know it sounds kind of cheesy, but there really is.”
Those who choose to give their time can take on a variety of tasks – from picking up food to unloading it, or from stocking shelves to working customer service and special events.
The fact that only five staff members are employed at the food bank further exemplifies the importance of these volunteers.
“Without them, we wouldn’t even be able to open the door,” said Hampton.
One of those volunteers is 73-year-old Marana resident Bob Blaiz, who, in his professional life, spent 30 years as an industrial mechanic. Blaiz has been living in Marana for the last nine years, and has been volunteering at the food bank for the last five months.
Blaiz, who now spends six days a week volunteering at the food bank, initially moved to Marana to retire.
“I wasn’t here for one week when I realized that wasn’t me,” said Blaiz.
Blaiz initially began volunteering at the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation. After spending years dedicating his time there, he decided to give the food bank a try.
“I’m glad I can do it,” said Blaiz. “When you can give something you should, and I can give my time, I think I’m helping a lot. We serve an awful lot of people here.”
Blaiz personally donates about 50 hours each week to the food bank, performing any and every task needed of him.
“I’ve just got to keep busy,” he said. “I don’t care what it is as long as I’m doing something that benefits other people.”
The Marana Community Food Bank is in need of more volunteers, particularly for drivers and driver assistants. Those interested in volunteering can download an application at www.maranacommunityfoodbank.org or call 682-3001 ext. 202.
Often, volunteers are placed in areas of work that relate to professional skills acquired during their careers.
New volunteer orientations are held each Thursday.