COLORADO, USA — The holidays have a tagline, a "time for giving," but one couple in Colorado pushes for people to see the need for helping not just from November to December, but year-round.
Kim and Phil Willett said since about March 2017, they've spent two days a week volunteering all year long at the Food Bank of the Rockies (FBR), along with spending some time at the soup kitchen and working in the mobile pantry.
"This is a place where you get rid of your stress levels. It is a really good stress reducer, because it's physical," Kim said. "You have a lot of good physically rewarding work, but it's not hard work."
FBR is the largest hunger-relief organization in the region. They said they have the largest food-bank coverage in the contiguous United States.
And with numbers like those, FBR relies on many volunteers throughout the year to keep operations running.
"We get to see the people we are helping, not just come here and work," Phil said.
As of Oct. 21, volunteers have donated 75,325 hours of their time. FBR said that's more than 3,138 days across their three distribution centers. This has resulted in the distribution of 79 million pounds of food so far in 2021.
"Just do it, especially with the food bank," Kim said. "There's no long-term commitment. If you've got a few extra hours, show up."
Food insecurity in Colorado only increased during the pandemic, making positions like these all the more critical.
"It's a good workout. It's really better than going to the gym," Kim said. "Cheaper than the gym."
There are plenty of different ways to volunteer at the Food Bank of the Rockies all year. With more than 70 mobile pantry sites and more than 800 hunger-relief partners in Colorado and Wyoming, volunteers can spend their time behind the scenes or putting food directly in people's hands.
"Whatever you touch here, you touch someone else," Phil said. "So it's very fulfilling, and the only sad thing is during the holidays there's plenty of volunteers, but in January, February, March, it really falls off."
FBR couldn't have made signing up any more straightforward. Come alone, or in a group.
"I recommend if you don't want to do it by yourself, get a buddy. That's how we do it," Kim said.
To sign up, head over to the FBR website to look for upcoming shifts and sign up to give back this holiday and all year.
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