The day before the Stay at Home order was issued by Governor DeWine, Second Harvest made the difficult decision to discontinue use of its volunteers. That same day, we welcomed the arrival of 15 Ohio National Guard soldiers to help scale up the operation by pulling food orders, packing food boxes, and setting up and executing food distributions. Since that time, they have been instrumental in helping us serve the community. They are on assignment with us through December 2020.
During their time with us, they assisted on almost 100 drive- thru mobile pantries, packed almost 35,000 food pantry boxes, and nearly 3,000 Senior Boxes. The total pounds packed, sorted, and distributed is almost 3M pounds. They have helped in nearly every aspect of our operation. The Guards men and women assisted in warehouse operations, pulled orders, received product, drove trucks, and assisted in administration. During the month of July, the Volunteer Relations Department began bringing back some volunteers to train alongside the soldiers to learn the new system as the number of National Guard soldiers began a scheduled draw down.
Commanding officers Captain Stephanie Duarte and Sargent First Class Monique Bryant led the initial group each step of the way. SFC Bryant shared, “Working at Second Harvest has been a life changer, coming in not even knowing how a food bank operates to now knowing all the operations is wonderful. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a group of amazing people and really learned a lot. With all the deployments and mobilizations, I have been on in my 20 years of service, I have to say this is the best. Helping others and knowing I made a difference in someone’s life gives me a better sense of honor, pride, and compassion for the great state of Ohio and the United States Army.”
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