Front Burner Blog

Never Too Young To Lend A Hand

At age 26, Ellie has been a Food Lifeline volunteer for more than a dozen years. She started as a tag-along kid on her big sister’s high-school service project and keeps volunteering well into adulthood because she finds the experience so rewarding.

“I feel like it makes such an impact – so direct, so profound,” Ellie says. “To know that the food that I’m sorting and handling is going into people’s homes in the next couple of days – that’s really incredible.”

When she drives by her local food bank and sees her neighbors lined up for groceries, “I’m grateful for the privilege I’ve had in my life, for my community here that I’m helping,” she says.

Then Ellie turns less serious and laughs (as she does often in a conversation). There’s a practical side benefit to volunteering at Food Lifeline, she says: Moving boxes of food can do double duty as “my daily workout.”

Ellie enjoys the camaraderie at Food Lifeline, both with staff and other volunteers. “It’s such a great environment, so friendly and welcoming.”

Ellie appreciates the organization’s policy of allowing young people to help. When her sister was exploring community service to satisfy her graduation requirement, their mother hoped for an opportunity their family could do together.

“My mom instilled a volunteer spirit in us,” Ellie says.

They signed up for Sort and Pack sessions, which allow children as young as 6 to volunteer. Ellie was fascinated by the warehouse environment.

“It was the first time I got a glimpse behind the scenes into the food world, aside from the grocery store.”

After her sister graduated, Ellie and her mother continued to participate, at first together and then separately. Beyond sorting and packing, Ellie has volunteered for Food Lifeline at Fresh Rescue, Stamp Out Hunger, The Alley at the Bite of Seattle and the Savor auction and dining fundraiser.

The amount of her volunteer time ebbs and flows, depending on what else is going on in her life. But Food Lifeline is a constant.

“It’s always been there for me. It’s so flexible,” she says, adding, “I’ve left every volunteer experience feeling good.”

Volunteering, the college student says, has influenced her world view. Her goal is a career that helps people, and Ellie gives credit to Food Lifeline.

Serving there during so many formative years, she says, helped nurture “a giving-back spirit in myself.”

To see the range of ways you could give time to end hunger, visit Food Lifeline’s Volunteer page.

All of these photos are of Food Lifeline volunteers, however Ellie is not pictured in this article.

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