NWA Food Bank Offers Volunteer Opportunities For All Ages
By Dave Woods • Official Kids Mag
Trina Wilson likes her job. She is the volunteer coordinator and senior mobile pantry coordinator for the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank. She gets excited working with her kid volunteers. At the food bank, there are volunteer opportunities for all ages.
“That’s one of my favorite parts of the job,” she said. “I love getting to see them interact with people other than their parents and siblings. It’s nice for adults to see that they are making an impact on the people around them.”
When kids who volunteer at the NWA Food Bank learn a concerning local statistic, Trina said they are often surprised.
“In Northwest Arkansas one in four kids are hungry,” she explained. “Overall the number is one in seven. If you divide the kids up and say that ‘out of you four kids, one of you will go to bed hungry tonight.’ It makes an impact. Or, ask them how they would feel if they didn’t know where their next meal was coming from? It really makes a difference to them. It’s pretty cool to see them react. Some kids come here and may not have a great attitude about volunteering, but by the time they leave, they feel like they have made a difference and feel better about themselves.”
Many of the young volunteers immediately understand. Others, Trina said, take a little more explanation.
“Some of them still have a hard time grasping it,” she said. “Until they’ve been hungry themselves, it’s difficult to understand. Some kids are just more empathetic than others. In some kids you can really see it by the end of the afternoon. It has really hit home with them.”
Kids 14 years and younger need an adult with them when they volunteer at the Food Bank. Many kids enjoy the time they spend with their adult working in the community.
“I think the NWA Food Bank is a good place to start volunteering,” Trina said. “I can find a job for everybody. Even if it’s just putting stickers on the outside of a box, taping a box up or handing products to people. I can find a job for everyone. It’s one of those areas they can build their skills and, as they get older, see they are learning to interact with other kids and adults.”
While inspiring kids to volunteer and get involved in their communities, Trina still hopes to make the experience enjoyable.
“That is my goal,” she said. “No one has to be there. They are there because they want to be. I don’t want it to be like a chore.”