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Holiday season yields more volunteering in Columbia

Volunteers serve up Thanksgiving dinner at Lee's in Columbia.
Yiqian Zhang
Volunteers serve up Thanksgiving dinner at Lee's in Columbia.

With the holidays quickly approaching, people are busier than ever trying to help feed others in need during the holiday season.

Much like at shopping malls, business around the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri picks up during the holidays.  Food Bank spokesperson Rachel Ellersieck said hunger is a year round problem.  She said volunteering, however picks up at this time, something she credits to the simple fact that people want to help people in need during this season.

“Yes, we would definitely say that November and December are our busy periods as far as people wanting to volunteer, people wanting to do food drives, people wanting to do fundraisers.  All of which we are extremely grateful for,” Ellersieck said.

The Salvation Army has food pantries, as well as shelters, with soup kitchens set up in Central Missouri that distribute food to people individually, whereas the Food Bank distributes mass amounts of food to 135 partner agencies in 32 counties.  Salvation Army spokesperson Major Richard Trimmell said Salvation Army food pantries and shelters receive a good amount of food from the food bank, but also from group and individual donations.  He said their food pantries are of particular importance during the holiday season.

“I think holiday seasons in particular are very family oriented.  So for the pantry, in particular people during the holidays I think they like to have a meal at home, so it’s important that we be able to provide those types of things,” Trimmell said.

Trimmell also said the holiday season is a good socialization time and more people go into the shelter to eat.  Ellersieck said the Food Bank hopes to collect enough food and funds to provide 15 million meals for partner agencies, such as the Salvation Army food pantries and shelters, and people in need through November and December alone.

This story originally aired as part of Business Beat, a weekly program about business and economics in mid-Missouri.