Progress Preview: Sandwich Soldier

Published 9:58 am Friday, February 25, 2011

Sheila Walk stands in the kitchen of the Salvation Army building on Court Street in Albert Lea. She volunteers full time and was one of many volunteers who helped make sandwiches after the June 17 tornado outbreak. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

Shiela Walk works six days a week serving meals at the Salvation Army building on Court Street. She said she enjoys the work, the people she serves and the volunteers she works with — though they’re always looking for more volunteers.

“I have to keep busy mentally and physically,” Walk said.

Walk was instrumental immediately after the June 17 tornado outbreak in organizing meals and sandwich making. The Salvation Army said they served 10,859 meals, 16,294 drinks and 6,940 snacks to people from June 18 through June 27.

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The morning after the tornadoes hit volunteers were at the Salvation Army making sandwiches and getting supplies from local grocery stores. Walk said many food items were donated as well, which helped stock the trucks that went out with the food.

In addition to all the sandwiches that were made, Walk was busy making hot meals to send out as well. She said they made scalloped potatoes and ham, goulash, hot dogs, brats, hamburgers and chili to send out each day after the storms.

Volunteers would show up early in the morning and work 12 to 14 hours making food every day. Because they needed extra space, another sandwich-making station was set up at the Northbridge Mall. Walk helped stock the trucks that went out and went along on the trucks to serve food. She said the damage she saw was hard to process.

“It was very interesting and shattering,” Walk said.

Capt. Jim Brickson said Walk did a lot of behind-the-scenes work with stocking the trucks and organizing all the food making. Often the volume of food they were making and serving was overwhelming to the volunteers.

“She’s very dedicated to the Army,” Brickson said. “She sets the bar pretty high.”

Brickson said he submitted Walk’s name for Soldier of the Year, and she won the second place spot.

“It wasn’t hard to write nice things about her,” Brickson said.

Walk said she’s just one of the many volunteers who spent a lot of time working after the tornadoes hit. She speaks highly of other volunteers, but wishes there were more.

“They were really appreciated,” Walk said.

Hero: Sheila Walk
Secret identity: full-time volunteer
Base of operations: Salvation Army in Albert Lea
Superpowers: compassionate, when she starts a job she finishes it
Kryptonite: takes on too much because she can’t say no
Affiliations: one daughter, two sons, many grandchildren
Origin: Walk has been a full-time volunteer at the Salvation Army for about two years. After she found out she had a malignant tumor, she said she couldn’t sit still at home and needed something to do.