Doing the most good
Volunteers enjoy giving back, especially during the holidays
Two area women have a combined 20-plus years of volunteering under their belts.
Marilyn Zimmerman and Grace Bos, both of Hollandale, first got started with volunteering through their church, Hollandale Christian Reformed Church. They started with serving suppers in Austin for the Salvation Army, before being able to focus on the Albert Lea area a few years later.
Bos has been volunteering with the Salvation Army for about 20 years, and Zimmerman said she got more into volunteering weekly after retiring a few years back.
Now, the two friends volunteer weekly to help prep, serve and clean up one of the daily meals the organization offers.
“Being with those people, you see the appreciation,” Bos said.
“When you’re actually there all the time, … I’m impressed with how organized it is,” Zimmerman added.
The two women credited Joyce Theis, meal site chef and food pantry coordinator for the Salvation Army in Albert Lea, with keeping everything running so smoothly.
Zimmerman and Bos also help with the annual Salvation Army Thanksgiving community meal, which takes place the day before Thanksgiving. They said they start prepping Monday for the Wednesday meal, before showing up that day to help serve and clean up. They said a lot of their Salvation Army regulars come to the Thanksgiving meal, plus plenty of others, as the dinner is open to the public.
“It’s nice to see the regulars at Thanksgiving,” Bos said. “They’re very appreciative.”
“There are some who, without Joyce offering this, they wouldn’t have a Thanksgiving meal,” Zimmerman said.
Bos and Zimmerman also volunteer to ring bells for the organization each year, as a part of its Christmas red kettle fundraising campaign. The pair encouraged others to do so, as they said it’s easy to sign up for a time slot, and it really isn’t a big time or energy commitment. Plus, the majority of the money raised benefits those struggling, they said.
“The money they take in goes back to those in need,” Zimmerman said. “It’s not going back to a corporate office, but meeting the needs of those in the community.”
There are always other ways to help, too, Zimmerman and Bos said. Hats, coats, mittens/gloves and other winter items are always needed. Zimmerman said her church has made quilts before and donated them. The meals the Salvation Army serves just about every day of the week could likely use volunteers, too, and two-hour slots can be assigned.
Volunteering helps keep the focus off themselves, Zimmerman said.
“It’s a good eye opener,” she said. “I’m impressed with how happy and family-oriented the people who come through are. It seems they’re a family unto themselves in a way.”
“You don’t always think of Albert Lea having homelessness,” Boss said. “We’ve been so blessed to be able to give back and help somebody. After all, we’re supposed to love one another.”