RSVP Offers Food Pantry Volunteer Opportunities

Editor’s Note:  The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program is a referral service designed to place volunteers in non-profit organizations where their knowledge and skills positively impact the community and individuals served.  The following article is part of a monthly series by RSVP highlighting the community based involvement and service of RSVP volunteers.

Pictured are RSVP volunteers Ann Reid (left) and Cheryl Fluke (right). These volunteers assist at the Clearfield Food Pantry on a regular basis. (Provided photo)

The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Clearfield County offers a wide variety of volunteer opportunities for individuals 55 years old or older that enable them to utilize their skills and knowledge and to contribute to their communities’ preparedness activities. 

RSVP also participates in National Days of Service.  Clearfield County RSVP does an annual sock drive for Make a Difference Day and a food drive to benefit area food banks for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  

RSVP is now required by its federal funding grant to place volunteers in focus areas that have a high impact on the community and address the greatest area needs.  One very important community need is to provide supplemental, perishable and non-perishable food to the needy, unemployed and low-income families in Clearfield County.  

The 2010 U.S. Census Bureau’s QuickFacts notes that 14.7 percent of the residents of Clearfield County lived below poverty level. That trend has continued.  Food pantries throughout Clearfield County address this community need.  

Central Pennsylvania Community Action Inc., an RSVP station, is responsible for allocating Pennsylvania food pantry monies throughout the county.  At the present time, CPCA has 10 food pantries in Clearfield County; one in each school district.  RSVP volunteers assist in six of these food pantries: Burnside, Clearfield, Curwensville, DuBois, Houtzdale and Westover. 

Individuals or households at 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines are eligible to receive food pantry services.  RSVP volunteers assist with ordering food, unloading trucks, keeping records of who receives food, stocking shelves, taking inventory, assisting with applications and distributing food to consumers.  Some of the county’s food pantries are run entirely by volunteers.

Robin Clark is in charge of the Clearfield and the Curwensville food pantries.  When asked about the volunteers, Clark said, “The volunteers are my right arm.  We couldn’t do the things we do for the families of the area without the volunteers.  I am very grateful for their help.”

Food drives provide extra supplies to the food pantries.  Many groups, churches and organizations throughout Clearfield County hold annual food drives to supply food pantries with non-perishable foods.   Donations are always accepted to assist the program. 

For the past four years, RSVP has helped the food pantries by organizing a service project for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  The King Day of Service is a way to transform this federal holiday into community service that helps solve social problems.  With so many individuals struggling with the economy, a food drive makes a big difference for many people and their families.  This is a perfect time for the community to work together to fill the pantries.

Many organizations and businesses step up and help with RSVP’s food drive.  Participants include area Centers for Active Living, churches, schools, libraries and businesses.  Area restaurants will be asked to sell and display a cut-out paper hand, or “Helping Hand”, for each $1 donation they collect from patrons.  Some businesses and nursing homes also collect and display helping hands.

Last year, more one-and-a-half tons of food and more than $1,000 was gathered and divided among 10 food pantries in Clearfield County. 

Why not join in and help with this worthy cause?  Maybe you could partner with RSVP and organize a food drive or a helping hand collection where you work or at an organization that you belong to.  If you live in a senior housing facility, maybe you could organize a food collection.  With everyone working together, we can fill the county’s food pantry shelves.  The food pantries tell us that after the holidays, the food supply is low.  Please call the RSVP office at 814- 765-2226 or 1-800-225-8571 and let us know how you can help.

December Volunteer Corner

ACTIVITY ASSISTANTS/VISITORS:  Volunteers are needed in area nursing and personal care homes to assist with activities for the residents.  Do you have a special interest or hobby you would be willing to share?  Are you friendly and outgoing?  This is a great opportunity to make new friends and brighten your own day as well as those you visit.  Flexible scheduling is available.

CLERICAL VOLUNTEERS:  Many non-profit organizations request volunteers to assist with clerical duties such as data entry, filing, answering the telephone, etc.  If you would like to assist one of your favorite non-profits, please call the RSVP office.  Training is provided and scheduling is flexible.

ENVIRONMENTAL VOLUNTEERS:  The Clearfield County Senior Environmental Corp. has a program in place to educate the residents of Clearfield County on groundwater issues.  Volunteers are needed to assist with this program.  Volunteers will receive training that will assist them in giving presentations to various organizations.  Help protect our water supplies for future generations.

AMERICAN RED CROSS –The American Red Cross touches millions of lives each day.  If you would like to help keep the public prepared to respond to disasters and personal emergencies, consider volunteering your time to help.  Volunteers are needed to serve at Bloodmobiles, provide clerical assistance, help during local disasters, or to assist with shelters.  The level of commitment is up to you.  All training is provided and the scheduling is flexible.  If you want a challenging volunteer opportunity, this may be just what you are looking for.

If you are interested in learning more about the volunteer opportunities that are available in area food pantries, in any of the above volunteer opportunities, or would like to learn more about RSVP, please call the RSVP office at 814-765-2226 or 1-800-225-8571.

RSVP is sponsored and partially funded by the Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging Inc.  Additional funding is provided by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Clearfield Area and DuBois Area United Way agencies, memorials and contributions.

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