Hurricane Florence is drawing closer and closer to land with each passing second, forcing East Coast families to pack up and leave or prep for 1 severe flooding.
One South Carolina resident, Eileen Cyrus has chosen not to evacuate, instead, staying put and trusting that her safety efforts will prove successful. “I’m hunkered down for the storm. I have a generator. I have a gas stove. I have my house boarded up.” Cyrus explained.
Here in Central Illinois, Midwest Food Bank is ahead of the curve, organizing as many food boxes as possible. Everything from pasta, macaroni & cheese, canned soup, cereal, chips, and all sorts of snacks are inside the boxes.
Meanwhile the Salvation Army is already in the affected storm areas.
Both organizations work together closely, with the Salvation Army, serving as the eyes and ears for MFB, assessing local needs.
“They call and start ordering the boxes by the semi load. We can fit just about 1000 boxes in every semi load that goes down.” explained Mike Hoffman, Director of Logistics and Procurement for Midwest Food Bank.
So far, the outer bands of the 300-mile wide storm have reached land. Florence is expected to deliver as many as 10 trillion tons of water in some areas. To put the massive storm into perspective, it would completely cover the state of Illinois, proving that local relief efforts will go a long way, once they reach the East Coast.
Hoffman credits the bank’s volunteers with their ability to offer help as far reaching as they do. “Volunteers are the only way Midwest Food Bank operates” he says.
It takes as many as 50 volunteers to load one of their semis. Just a few hours for one of those volunteers, could be life-changing for someone in the eye of Florence.
Dennis Householter is retired, and spends his time working with MFB. “I just want to give back to others for what I’ve had myself.” He shared.
His buddy Norma Weissman, a fellow volunteer, says “Every morning we go to Walmart and Kroger for empty banana boxes and we have food come in that we have to pack and distribute.” Norma, like Dennis, says she feels blessed to use her retirement, helping people who affected by the hurricane’s devastation.
Midwest food bank of volunteer truck drivers and food handlers are ready to answer the call, alerting them that it’s time to head out to disaster hit areas, but Hoffman reminds the community that during such a crucial time, any additional money or non-perishable donations make a difference.
He says folks often donate canned goods or buy items themselves and donate, but explains the bank is able to stretch donation dollars further than the average person, by purchasing items in bulk.
Nonetheless, Hoffman boasts the Central Illinois community is one of the most giving, always showing up to support others when they request help.
“When people experience the worst, that’s what brings out the best in everybody else, and we all went to help and there’s a lot of ways we can do that.” He assures.
To learn more information about volunteering at one of the Midwest Food Bank’s locations, or to donate, visit https://midwestfoodbank.org/home
Anyone interested in becoming a trained disaster relief Salvation Army volunteer, can contact Lana Barnhill, their Emergency Disaster Services Volunteer Coordinator at 309-655-7220.