Local Retirees Pitch in at Mobile BackPack Food Distribution in Blair
Stacy Nelson may have retired from the classroom, but it’s clear she’s still very much a teacher at heart. She beamed as she called out enthusiastic greetings to dozens of her former students, ducking to wave at familiar faces in the backseat as she stacked boxes and bags of food into their trunks. Nelson, who worked for many years as a special education teacher for Blair Community Schools, was one of seven volunteers helping to distribute approximately 140 meals at North Primary School in Blair on July 23. “I’m so glad to see the families, and I’m glad to be able to do a little something to help out during such a hard time,” Nelson said.
Since it launched in mid-March, the Mobile BackPack Program – a partnership between The Food Bank for the Heartland, The Salvation Army and several other area agencies – has distributed more than 306,000 meals at 18 locations around the Omaha metro and neighboring towns to families in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Retired Blair Community Schools remedial reading teacher Sharon Thompson signed up to help at the Blair food distribution when she read about the need for volunteers in her church bulletin. “It’s warm out here,” she admitted, unloading crates of milk in the blazing sun, “but it’s not difficult work, and it’s worth it to be able to help out.”
Volunteer Cindy Berg, also from Blair, has served on The Salvation Army’s Women’s Auxiliary Board for the last four years. She enjoys volunteering because, as she said, “The people I meet and the people we are helping are all so appreciative.”
From scorching summer days to sub-zero winter nights, retiree Tim Murphy has weathered it all. In addition to helping at several Mobile BackPack distribution sites this summer, he’s also a ten-year veteran volunteer of The Salvation Army’s Winter Night Watch food distribution program.
“Nebraska weather doesn’t intimidate me,” said Murphy. “I like getting out and pitching in where I can.”
“The Salvation Army absolutely couldn’t provide the breadth of services we do without the help of our volunteers,” said Shawn Bonge, divisional director of volunteer services. “Retirees comprise a large part of our volunteer network; we are so grateful for their commitment and their service.”
Interested in volunteering for The Salvation Army? Learn more about upcoming opportunities here.