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Robinson named The Pantry Volunteer of the Year

Betty Robinson started volunteering at The Pantry after a friend invited her to join along and help work at Oxford’s emergency food bank for a few hours a month.

Twenty years later, Robinson is not only still volunteering at The Pantry, but on Monday, she was named the Volunteer of the Year during The Pantry’s volunteer meeting.

It took me a minute to realize what was going on,” Robinson said. “I couldn’t believe it. There are so many volunteers at The Pantry who put in so much time. It was very humbling.”

The Pantry, located in a double-wide trailer on the property next to the Oxford Police Department, has helped thousands of Oxford and Lafayette County citizens each year since 1982 by providing food to low-income families and the elderly living on a fixed income.

We have a lot of people in our county who need help,” Robinson said. “I find it so rewarding. You can have something bad going on in your life, but when you volunteer at The Pantry, you realize you don’t have it nearly as bad as some.”

Many churches around Oxford and Lafayette County send volunteers to The Pantry that allows clients to “shop” for food once a week. The Pantry also serves about 69 home-bound people with volunteers delivering groceries to their homes once a month.

A member of College Hill Presbyterian Church, Robinson helps screen new clients every third week of each month and once a year, she and another volunteer manage the food side of the operation. She also delivers food to home-bound clients.

She says while she finds joy in helping her neighbors, she also enjoys the friendships she makes.

You meet volunteers from other churches and you get to know the clients,” she said.

Before volunteering at The Pantry, Robinson delivered food to people with the Meals on Wheels program in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Robinson said The Pantry needs more people willing to donate their time.

We need people to deliver food once a month to our home-bound clients,” she said. “We need volunteers to help screen people and take them around while they pick out their good and help bring the bags to the car. Every other Monday, we get a big delivery of chickens at 7:30 in the morning and we always need people to help take the chickens out of the boxes and put them into the freezer. There are so many ways people can help that fit into just about every schedule – but we really need people who can deliver food right now.”

For more information about volunteering at The Pantry, email volunteer coordinator Linda Jansen at lfjansen@att.net.