Although the Sedalia Salvation Army has great volunteers, officials are seeking to add several for their community-based programs that include the Red Shield Cafe, the food pantry, and children’s programs that begins in September.
“We are desperate for volunteers,” said Lorraine Eiler, VISTA volunteer coordinator at the Sedalia Salvation Army. “We have services that we offer every day of the work week. At the soup kitchen called the Red Shield Cafe, we offer lunch Monday through Friday free of charge. We always need cooks for that. We’re feeding easily 40 to 50 people a day.”
“We gotten up to 75 to 80,” added Lt. Tonia Collins, who is the Sedalia Salvation Army Corps officer along with her husband Lt. Jared Collins.
Eiler said she saw an an increase of people eating at the cafe after the Missouri State Fair ended.
“I think that’s true of the food pantry, too,” she added.
The Salvation Army food pantry is located at 1305 S. Limit Ave.
“We need volunteers for that, four days a week,” Tonia said.
“The food pantry is open Wednesday and Friday morning, but we need help putting the food donations away, every day of the week except Monday,” Eiler said. “We lost a lot of volunteers over the summer, and we’re trying to build that back up. We’re really looking for some adult volunteers.”
“We’ve also had a wonderful increase of donations from Walmart,” Tonia added. “And we went from having one day a week to two days a week. And while it’s wonderful to have that, especially since there are frozen and refrigerated items, they have to be put away as quickly as possible. That’s what we really need the volunteers for on Tuesdays and Thursdays, for those foods that can spoil. It’s a lot of hands on.”
Eiler said they need at least 10 volunteers for the soup kitchen every week, plus 10 to 12 to help with the food pantry.
“They can either be on the front lines or behind the scenes,” she said.
“They need to be able to lift a little,” Tonia added. “If they can’t lift, we could find them a situation where they could put the food away.”
They are also looking for a volunteer to help man an extra desk and phone that is being set up this week. The volunteer would work alongside Dee Wade, office manager and 12-year volunteer, in the administrative offices. The volunteer would answer the phone Monday and Tuesday each week.
“We can always use volunteers in our Thrift Stores to help sort,” Tonia added. “I know people wonder why does the Salvation Army have a thrift store? Why don’t they just give the clothes away, but between the thrift stores and (the kettles) at Christmas that funds what we are able to do in the county. Without that we really hurt.”
Her husband said volunteers are an integral part of the local Salvation Army.
“If you consider the fact that we have volunteer opportunities in our social services, in our soup kitchen, and coming up really big for kettles at Christmas, if we would have to hire for all those positions basically the Salvation Army wouldn’t be at work here,” he said. “We wouldn’t be able to anything we do here without the help of our volunteers. We’re able to run the soup kitchen at almost no cost. Between the food we get donated and the volunteers, that’s just a huge thing that affects 40 to 80 people a day. It’s the same with each of our programs.”
He added that Sedalia is the only community he’s been a part of that uses only volunteers for the Christmas kettle campaign.
“Normally we would hire kettle workers to stand at the kettle and ring a bell,” he said. “That’s normally a minimum wage job but even minimum wage across 10 sites every day for two months, that’s a big cost. The Salvation Army is really proud of the fact that nationally we have an 82 cent average — 82 cents of every dollar goes right back into your community. In Sedalia we’re able to say that that’s a whole lot higher because we aren’t paying any employees to stand at those kettles.”
At present the Sedalia Salvation Army has several volunteers that are helping out in different areas.
“Diane Rattinger, if she’s not working at Wendy’s, is here every day of the week helping us wherever she can,” Eiler said. “She helps us in the office, she helps us in the kitchen, in the food pantry, she helps us with social services — everywhere. She started out working in the thrift store on Limit (Avenue).”
Rattinger has been volunteering for about five years and she is known for her hugs and good cheer. She became involved she because she wanted to help out at the Salvation Army Thrift Store. She said her favorite part of volunteering is the people.
“Just being with the people,” she said. “Sometimes I give people hugs, if they’re sad or if they’re frustrated.”
Amy Lancaster has been helping in the cafe for about a year. She and her husband were homeless and found that volunteering has not only helped others but helped her as well.
“These people here helped us,” she said. “Now I’ve been volunteering for awhile. It’s been a blessing. We lost our house and had some issues … and I come from domestic violence and I wanted to help. So I’m trying to work up to show the community that I’m not into that anymore.”
Lancaster said she enjoys working with Rattinger because of her encouraging hugs.
Tonia added that volunteers are also needed for the Kids Corps program that begins Sept 6. and features help with homework, music and character building. At present they have no leader for the Moon Beams, or children in the kindergarten age group. Adult volunteers are also needed for King’s Kids, a children’s church program.
Those interested in volunteering with the Sedalia Salvation Army programs or for more information can call 826-1525.