Family Night at Food Bank teaches kids joy of volunteering
BY NOUR HABIB World Scene Writer
Monday, November 26, 2012
11/26/12 at 4:32 AM
Eight-year-old Adam Andrews and 10-year-old Brenden Paul called the night they spent helping out at the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma a little tiring but mostly fun.
Both said their volunteer work was important because they were helping people in need.
"Some people don't have food to eat three times a day," Adam said.
Adam and Brenden are among a group of kids who are now allowed to volunteer at the food bank through the new Family Night program. Regular procedure limits volunteers to those 11 years and older.
Susan Tilkin, director of communications and marketing, said the food bank decided to launch Family Night to allow people "to spend time together as a family and make a difference."
Many kids volunteer at the food bank through their schools, and parents often want to participate in the experience when their children tell them about it, Tilkin said.
Brenden's mother, Kimberly Paul, is the cub master for Cub Scout Pack 954, which Brenden and Adam are a part of. She arranged the trip to the food bank because she said volunteer experience is beneficial for children.
"I just think it provides them with a good sense of giving back to the community and understanding that not everyone is as fortunate as they've been," Paul said.
Family Night, which is held from 6 to 8 p.m. on the first Tuesday of every month, gives parents an easy opportunity to show their kids community spirit, Paul added.
The food bank is also a great place for families because it helps people in a more behind-the-scenes manner than, for example, a soup kitchen, which some parents may not think is a suitable place for their young children, she said.
Kathleen Plunkett, Adam's mom, also accompanied her son to the food bank during Family Night earlier this month.
"It makes more people aware that in Tulsa there are folks that go to bed hungry," she said. "It's everywhere; it's not just in other countries. It's in this state, unfortunately, and in our town."
It's important for kids to know that, Plunkett said, so that they can be thankful for what they have and so they will help others.
"He's getting introduced to the idea of those who have things can share what they have, via time or cans of food or things like that," she said.
Often, children are able to relate to the work they do at the food bank because food is such an essential part of everyone's lives, no matter what their age, Tilkin said.
"When kids are packing backpacks, it makes such a huge difference because they know they are helping kids their own age," she said. "What we find is kids are extremely motivated and socially conscious and want to live in a community that they feel a part of."
Introducing kids to volunteer work at a young age also means that there is a better likelihood the practice will carry over when they get older, Tilkin said.
Asked whether he would consider returning to the food bank to volunteer again, Brenden's response was enthusiastic.
Where: Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, 1304 N. Kenosha Ave.
When: 6-8 p.m. on the first Tuesday of every month
Who: Families, with children as young as 8
How: Contact Phyllis Holmes at 918-936-4545 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit tulsaworld.com/foodbank Food Bank officials encourage volunteers to call a week in advance so that they can accommodate everyone.
Original Print Headline: Family Night at the Food Bank: A little goes a long way
Nour Habib 918-581-8369
Cub Scout Pack 954's Dallas Nation (left) and Boas Gelfand pack pasta in boxes for volunteer work at the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World
Cub Scout Pack 954's Mitchell Scott runs boxes of pasta to a pallet while doing volunteer work at the food bank. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World
Cub Scout Pack 954's Adam Andrews (left) and Andrei Mikhailov with their moms, Kathleen Plunkett and Nattasha Bogdanova, respectively, do volunteer work at the food bank. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World