Volunteers vital to success of LSS

For some families and individuals in Toledo and northwest Ohio, it’s becoming harder and harder to keep healthy food on the table.
That’s where Lutheran Social Services of Northwestern Ohio steps in, helping 2,381 individuals from June through September of 2023. That’s a large chunk of individuals who could replenish their cupboards thanks to our Emergency Choice Food Pantry.
The magic in the pantry doesn’t happen without lots of help, though. Every single individual who has received help from our pantry has directly interacted with volunteers who have given of their time and talents to make LSS a better organization.
“I’m in awe of the things we can do and what we can provide and the people we can help,” pantry volunteer Amy J. said. “The people here go 110, 125 percent every day. It’s a very pleasant atmosphere.”
Amy began volunteering in the pantry about five years ago. She had retired from work to help care for family members with medical issues, and she was looking for something to do during her down time. After seeing a flyer asking for help in the LSS pantry, she decided to give it a shot.
Having never been to a food pantry before, Amy came in completely blind and was soon surprised with the amount of people who seek our services.
“I had absolutely no clue about the different demographics that we serve here at LSS, so it’s been very eye-opening,” Amy said. “But it’s been very rewarding, too.
“We’re here, we can help them, and it’s done in a healthy, nutritious way and they can make their own choices. I’m just glad to help somebody who needs help.”
Another pantry volunteer, Corrine S. knew of the need in the community. As a nurse at Toledo Hospital, she regularly encountered individuals with food insecurities, especially when she transitioned into a home healthcare role.
In more than 20 years as a volunteer, Corrine said she has referred a large number of people to the LSS pantry.
“I’ve always felt, especially as a nurse … food insecurity is a huge issue,” Corrine said. “I worked at Toledo Hospital, and we had questions as part of discharge planning and it was shocking to me how many people had food insecurities.”
And help they do. Since June, there have been 20 volunteers in the pantry, totaling 486 volunteer hours. For LSS Vice President Tracia Jaksetic, the volunteer corp is invaluable for keeping the mission of LSS moving forward.
“We simply could not do what we do without our volunteers,” Tracia said. “From picking up groceries at the food bank to stocking our shelves to shopping with our clients, the volunteers are the ones who keep the pantry running.”
Both Corrine and Amy have brought multiple individuals into the fold as volunteers at LSS. The common theme in their pitch to new volunteers is love and help.
“I love the love that’s here,” Amy said.
Corrine added, “I think people see the need, they hear about it. They get a chance to come help.”
The volunteers are not only handing out groceries but hope, love and respect as well. It’s common to watch individuals leave the pantry with a smile on their face and standing a little taller.
“I have a helpers soul, and if I can see that I can make someone have maybe a little bit better day … I’m glad to do a little part in lifting their spirits, give them some hope, offer some prayers,” Amy said. “You can’t give a smile without it making you feel better.”
If you are interested in volunteering with LSS, please contact Food Pantry Coordinator Debbie Lisk at 419-243-9178.