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Courtney Gets Her Family Involved for Her ONE Action

How did you get involved with Second Harvest?
I’ve worked at Second Harvest for 11 years, but I started volunteering at food banks on the East Coast (where I’m from) when I was in middle school. I always enjoyed volunteering at pantries, community kitchens and organizations that provide food to those who need it most.

What does fighting food insecurity mean to you?
We are the link between people who have a little extra and people who need a little extra. Fighting food insecurity means that I’m doing my part to make someone’s day a little better. I might not be able to solve all the problems people in my community are facing, but I can help get food onto their tables and for that, I am very grateful.

Why is it important to fight hunger in multiple ways (working and volunteering)?
Second Harvest runs on the kindness of the community. There’s no way for an organization with such a large impact to make it all happen without volunteers, donors, and food donations. My husband has been a Second Harvest volunteer for as long as I have worked here. I think it just comes naturally to want to give back to an organization that does so much good! Our extended family does a big food drive at Christmas instead of exchanging gifts. It’s not difficult to make a huge impact!

I have volunteered in my community for a long time. Even as I’ve moved around the country I always make time to volunteer and give back to my community. That desire to give back got stronger when my husband and I had children. I couldn’t wait to get my oldest daughter volunteering, but we had a hard time finding organizations that would take young kids. As soon as she turned six, we scheduled our first volunteer shift at Second Harvest building BackPacks bags in our warehouse. She instantly loved volunteering and was begging to come back.

Why have you gotten your family involved?
It was easy to get my kids involved in the work that Second Harvest is doing. They are so proud of where I work and tell their friends that my job is to make sure that everyone has enough to eat. I love that! Getting my kids connected to giving back is important to my husband and me. We spend a lot of time talking about how communities work, how communities rely on and trust one another, and how it’s our duty to help. I’ve seen my children grow and flourish because they feel more connected to their greater community.

It’s fun for us to volunteer as a family. The way that Second Harvest’s volunteer experiences are structured and safe allows children to feel a great sense of independence in their work. They can be successful when it comes to the projects they work on. Kid-friendly projects are just hard enough and they sleep well after we volunteer for a few hours at Second Harvest.

What steps can we take to get our friends, loved ones, and coworkers involved in the fight against hunger with us?
Just invite them! Many people don’t understand how easy it is to give back. It’s THAT simple. Host a family, neighborhood, or school shift and invite everyone to volunteer. Do a food drive and ask your community to contribute. It only takes one person to start a ripple effect. That ripple will turn into a wave and we’ll all be better for it!

What is special about being able to give back as a family?
Giving back as a family brings us closer. Having something that we can learn together, and do together is very special. We have a routine now of getting home from school, having a special dinner, and then volunteering together. When my children started asking to go back or asking to do a food drive I knew we’d won! Their school did a food drive last year and they were SO proud because they knew where the food was going and all the families it would help. It was so wonderful to see them get excited about service to their community. I think it’s important to instill this value in the next generation so that it becomes second nature for them. They will always remember these times of us working side by side as equals. That’s very special to me and them!

What is one action that a person can take to fight hunger?
Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. Sign up for the shift you’ve been procrastinating, take up a collection with your friends to donate, or host a food drive. It might feel small to YOU but I promise that it’s HUGE for someone who needs your help.

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