Blue Valley Community Action (BVCA) is currently looking for volunteers to prepare for the upcoming holiday season.
The nonprofit, 416 E. St. in David City, provides a variety of services to those in need in Butler County, according to BVCA Family Development Coordinator Deb Aegerter, including a food pantry.
“If someone's in need of food, we can do that once a month,” Aegerter said. “If they are having trouble with utility or rent, we can help out with that; we have to go by all the paperwork and everything. We can do SNAP (supplemental nutrition food assistance program) applications… We do weatherization applications. We do back to school backpacks for the kiddos, they just come in and fill out a sheet. We do Christmas.”
BVCA Family and Community Services Director Ryan Bailey said it’s been a struggle across the region to get volunteers. They can’t do what they do without the work of volunteers, she added.
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“They're sort of what I would call like the backbone of our organization. And without them, we would not be able to provide services either to the community or to the people that we serve,” Bailey said. “Volunteers help us make sure that not only that the store can stay open, which is important to the community, but also so that we can continue to do food pantries and provide emergency assistance.”
Bailey said there are not set requirements to be a volunteer at BVCA.
“They just have to want to work and want to work with the public and help people,” she said. “People who are under the age of 18 would need to have probably an adult with them. But otherwise, there really aren't a whole lot of qualifications.”
At the moment, Aegerter said, BVCA is reaching out to churches to find more volunteers, whether it be youth groups, students needing to complete community service hours or anyone just wanting to help.
“We're also needing volunteers for the ringing of the Salvation Army bell. If anyone is interested in that, if the kiddos need some hours for school, they can contact me and we start the weekend of Thanksgiving,” Aegerter said. “Ninety percent of the proceeds stay in Butler County to help people out with utility rent, whatnot and the other 10%, if there's a fire or anything like that, that comes back to Butler County for disaster.”
Additionally, she said, volunteers are also always needed to help man the thrift store located at the nonprofit.
“Come in for a few hours, bring a friend,” Aegerter said.
Bailey said there are multiple benefits to being a volunteer, including boosting one’s resume and interacting with a variety of people from different walks of life.
“You're seeing all sides of the public,” Bailey said. “And then you're also seeing the side of the community, of the people who need the extra help, who have come upon some difficult times who've had a bump in the road or some other situation. Especially here lately, with the cost of food and the cost of gas rising, we're seeing a lot of people come in that hadn't come in before.”
Aegerter noted the nonprofit has seen an increased need in the area amid the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation. Other area food pantries have seen this increase as well.
“We've been given a lot more food pantries because of the cost of food, helping out with more utilities and rent because the inflation is really bad right now,” Aegerter said.
BVCA could always use food and monetary donations, she added.
Aegerter said people wanting to use the food pantry need to call and set up an appointment. She said Blue Valley also has a commodity supplemental food program.
“That is free food, age of 60 and over and it's income based … (people) can apply for that too,” she added.
She added they take donations for the thrift store all the time but no large items – such as beds – because of space constraints.
“We can't do our job, I can't do my job, without the help of the community,” Aegerter said.
“Cash donations, that just gets written out to Blue Valley Community Action. We have an account here in town, and that money stays right in Butler County.”
The nonprofit is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday.
Hannah Schrodt can be reached at email@example.com.