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Our volunteers

The Power of Community

Fresh Food Weekly relied on volunteers to run the charitable activities - from picking up food, to gleaning fields, to packaging donated foods, to packing meal boxes and delivering them to the front doorsteps of recipients. 

 

This was accomplished by using social media. 

At the beginning, it was literally chaos (see video above)

Berry-Picking & Gleaning Programs

One of Fresh Food Weekly’s most popular volunteer activities was berry picking at Barrie Hill Farms. This was always a great way for teens and local families looking for ways to get more involved in the community, and who doesn’t like berry-picking? 

 

One of the ways we learned to save time was by bringing the packaging containers so volunteers could just pick and put the berries directly into the containers they’d be delivered to recipients in. 

Blueberry Volunteers Post.png

Don't Set A Limit On Numbers

One of the challenging parts of managing a group of volunteers, though, is the number of no-shows. When we first started advertising for volunteers to help with the berry-picking, we had a limit in the number of volunteers we’d sign up. But when this limited number of people was cut down to two or three bodies, it became impossible to glean what was needed. 

 

To combat this, we decided to stop putting a limit on the number of volunteers who could signup to help pick berries. One of the issues with this, though, was that 30 people would show up and that would cut the picking time down to an hour if you’re only picking berries for 70-100 families. Even the teens would ask, “did you not know this many would come?” They were always very understanding though when I explained the problem with putting a limit on the number of volunteers who could sign up. 

The ideal way to setup a gleaning program is to allot a specific amount of time to glean fields/berry patches, and then whatever is gleaned during that time would be inventoried and delivered to program recipients the following day. Gleaning activities always occurred on the day before delivery days, and were always scheduled in the evening because that’s when the temperatures are coolest and teenagers are available. 

Embrace Supportive Parents

Another thing we noticed when signing up teenagers to volunteer was their parents arranged for them to volunteer 99 percent of the time. Parents are very invested in their children, obviously, and they really helped to make the teenager volunteer program successful. It’s also very rewarding working alongside parents to help their children succeed in life by creating opportunities for them to get their 40 community service volunteer hours. 

 

On one occasion, a teenager who was volunteering looked unhappy in a picture that was posted on Facebook (this teen gave permission to post), but the next time he volunteered, his mom joined him and worked with him side-by-side, and she did not put up with any attitude! The other moms were silently watching with respect while she was being a good mother to her son. 

Extra Volunteers For The Holidays

For holiday delivery days, we always needed a lot more volunteers than usual because we always raised extra funds so we could give out one-time holiday meal boxes to additional low-income families. By Christmas 2023, we needed ‘financial volunteers’ because Fresh Food Weekly received +1,000 applications for our Christmas dinner meal boxes. 

Volunteering programs generate real life experiences. They build character, strengthen community and they create a culture of strength in numbers. Volunteering in groups teaches us that together, we can make our world a better place and alleviate the suffering of others. 

Volunteer activities and responsibilities
Volunteer activities and responsibilities
Volunteer activities and responsibilities
Volunteer activities and responsibilities

Pickup Drivers

Baggers

Packers

Delivery Drivers