Blackwell joined The Food Bank’s first Glean Team harvest after the relaunch of the Full Circle Gardens program in 2014. He was also among the first group of volunteers to help establish Ozarks Food Harvest’s home garden in Rogersville, which now produces more than 13,000 pounds of fresh produce per year. “I enjoy volunteering here because you work and are busy; there’s no sitting around,” said Jim about his long-term service at The Food Bank.
“This is a great way to serve the community and make good friendships.” Blackwell, a retired elementary school teacher, began volunteering at Ozarks Food Harvest in 2013 because of his interest in their Weekend Backpack Program that provides children facing hunger with a backpack full of nutritious food every weekend of the school year. Today, he helps with a variety of projects at The Food Bank each week ranging from sorting food in their warehouse, helping with mobile food pantries, or gleaning excess produce from local farms. “Jim is one of our most dedicated volunteers and giving him this award was an easy decision,” said Jolene Thompson, volunteer engagement coordinator at Ozarks Food Harvest. “We’re so grateful for his continued service and belief in our mission to Transform Hunger into Hope.”
The Jim Blackwell Golden Gleaners Award will be given annually to a volunteer who has shown outstanding contributions to Ozarks Food Harvest’s Full Circle Gardens program. Ozarks Food Harvest needs volunteers to help sort more than 95,000 pounds of food per week to distribute to its network of 270 hunger-relief organizations affected by the pandemic. Those interested in volunteering can apply and schedule sessions online at ozarksfoodharvest.org/volunteer. All sessions must be pre-scheduled and closed-toe shoes are required. For volunteer program questions, contact volunteer engagement coordinator Jolene Thompson at (417) 865-3411.
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