Volunteering Vibes Blog 1

Maria volunteers at a food pantry for the first time


Maria is picking apples for the Lake in the Hills and Algonquin Food Pantry (M. Loiseau).

By Maria Loiseau

My journey through volunteering is a new one. Even though I am a junior, volunteering is not something that I was active about until now. Volunteering can be a lot of fun when you do what you like, and with people you can connect with.

One of my most recent volunteer experiences was at the Lake in the Hills and Algonquin Food Pantry, through Leo’s Club. 

At 9 am on a Saturday, I was the first volunteer to arrive at the food pantry. This was very nerve wracking because this was my first out of school volunteer experience, and I had almost no clue what to expect. We were told we would be picking apples, but how could we be picking apples for 4 hours?

Once others started to arrive, a run down of what we would have to do was given to us. During the time volunteering we would have to pick not just apples, but green beans, jalapeños, squashes, and more. I thought that this would be so easy, and I would only have to walk around pulling vegetables. Wrong.

Picking fruits and vegetables requires a lot more technique than you would think. For example, the green beans were a process to remove. First, I had to make sure that the green bean was ripe enough before I picked it. This meant that it could not be too small. When I had to pick it, I thought that I was going to break a nail, but long nails actually came in handy.

Apparently you can’t just pull green beans off the stem, instead you have to leave part of the top intact, so the stem can produce more green beans. 

It is very important for them to keep their garden producing more produce because all of the food they grow is given to the people who need food from the food pantry.

Volunteering can be intimidating sometimes because you don’t know where to start, or how to get involved. With places like Lake in the Hills and Algonquin Food Pantry it is good to call in advance and ask how you can help. Help is something that they will never turn down.