Volunteers key to Northern Illinois Food Bank work

GENEVA, Ill. (WLS) -- 'Tis the season to give back, but two local women give back year-round as volunteers at the Northern Illinois Food Bank. They volunteer weekly to make sure people in their communities don't go without.

"I have a lot of energy, it's hard for me to sit still. I also like the fulfilling feeling. I feel like almost as much as I'm helping them. I'm getting more the benefit myself," said volunteer Wendy Ryder.

Ryder retired a few years ago and decided that volunteering was the best way to spend her new-found free time.

"I've always had everything I've wanted and felt it was time to give back," Ryder said. "I've done office work all my life and that's where I'm strongest I believe so I thought I would work in the office rather than pack boxes although I have done that as well."

Peggy Benzin has been putting in volunteer work hours for the Northern Illinois Food Bank for more than a decade. Hurricane Katrina sparked her to want to do more, she said.

"There was something in the paper about Northern Illinois Food Bank loading up water to send down to that area. And I thought oh that's something I could do. I know giving money is always good but sometimes you just feel like you need to do a little bit more," Benzin said.

Benzin has done everything from stuff envelopes to packing produce, and plans to keep giving back as long as she can.

"I used to teach Home Economics so food is always very, very special to me and I can't imagine, as a mom, not being able to give your child the proper food that they need," Benzin said. "When I was 51 and I'm now 62 so my goal is to keep being physically fit enough that I can do it."

Northern Illinois Food Bank officials said their volunteer workforce amounts to an additional 74 staff members to get the job done. So every person counts.

ABC7 has partnered with the Greater Chicago Food Depository and Northern Illinois Food Bank for the "Share the Joy" virtual food drive. To donate, click here.
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