Merck Volunteer Helps Food Pantry Open its Doors Wide

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Merck Volunteer Helps Food Pantry Open its Doors Wide

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Merck Heroes is a new feature spotlighting @Merck employee volunteers. December highlights Ann D.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013 - 10:00am

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Merck volunteer found that by giving a little of her time at a local food pantry, she got back a lot in return.

Ann D. recently spent her 365 Merck Days volunteer time at ProJeCt Interfaith Food Pantry in Easton, PA, a non-profit organization working to help people help themselves.

She worked hard, learned a great deal and realized just how much organizations like this need volunteer support to make it all come together.

ProJeCt volunteers assist with tutoring, bulk mailings, phone calls and the distribution of food, among other important tasks.  Ann worked four consecutive Thursdays at the food bank during a critical period when clients must do their annual re-registration to continue to receive food on a monthly basis. “For some, filling out a two-page form is overwhelming,” explains Ann.  She encountered clients who couldn’t read and some who only spoke Spanish. So, Ann greeted them and sat down beside them to help them complete the forms.

Dishing It Out

On any given day at the food bank, more than 100 people are served. As a result, Ann often had five clipboards going at once, but she stepped up to the task. Ann is friendly, understands process and also happens to be bilingual. And that’s just what the food bank needed.

“There is so much that goes into making sure that food gets to those in need,” says Ann. “It’s the behind-the-scenes activities that can make or break a program. When I saw the food bank’s operations, I was reminded how fortunate we are here at Merck. The pantry had outdated computers and printers, no internet and a cramped administrative work space.  With barely enough office supplies to carry out day-to-day activities, the staff and volunteers do their best to work within budget constraints.”

In addition to helping clients, Ann was quite moved by the people she encountered and the things she learned about hunger and poverty. Little things like the food supply not fitting into the available storage space. A challenge for sure since the excess food items would then need to be stacked up on already buckling shelves.  But the bounty would be gone by month-end.

Recipe for Success

“I’ve been volunteering my whole life,” says Ann. “It’s part of who I am. It’s great that Merck is so supportive of giving back to the community. I hope more Merck employees will take advantage of the 365 Merck Days program, which allows employees to give 20 hours per year of paid volunteer time. It’s a small thing, but small things make big things happen.”

Recently Ann organized a half-day volunteer outing for her colleagues at a food bank in Bridgewater.

Ann’s advice to Merck employees is to try to find a volunteer opportunity doing something you are good at, or something you truly enjoy. For instance, if you’re handy with a hammer, you can put a roof on a home.  All thumbs? Consider visiting a senior center or working with kids.

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Keywords: Volunteerism & Community Engagement | Community Engagement | Volunteering | food pantry | merck heroes

CONTENT: Article