KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In recognizing the ever-growing need for food, 84-year-old Don McClain has made it his mission to volunteer with Harvesters Food Bank.
“If you see the pictures on TV of the lines and lines in some cities, the thing that strikes me is a lot, most of those cars are very nice cars,” said McClain, who has volunteered with Harvesters for 15 years. “These are people who, the only thing they have that’s nice, that’s left, is their car.”
McClain said that until the coronavirus pandemic hit earlier this year, a team of 15 people worked every Wednesday morning. Now, they are down to four and McClain is still one of them.
“They cut back our hours and they even had to stop all together for a little while,” McClain said. “I really missed that Wednesday morning. It’s become what I’ve done, you know?Fifteen years is a long time.”
The coronavirus pandemic that has consumed most of 2020 thus far now is the driving force behind a renewed push to give back through volunteer work with Harvesters Food Bank. One out of every five families across the Kansas City metro is food insecure, meaning they have no idea where their next meal will come from. And McClain doesn’t like that.
“That’s – that's not right, he said. "There’s gotta be a way to answer that, and the biggest way to solve that is to make food more available."
From 84 years old to 15 years old, volunteers spanning generations have come together to feed their neighbors – Some for the first time.
“My cheer coach was like, 'Hey, it’s this lady from Harvesters. She wants some of the cheerleaders to volunteer,' and I’m like, 'OK, I’m going to volunteer'” said Taylor Craven, a first-time Harvesters volunteer and sophomore at Park Hill High School. “It was a lot of cars, and I wasn’t expecting it.”
As Craven did her job of passing out pineapples that day, she ran into a woman – one she can never forget – who was scheduled to pick up six households' worth of food.
“One of the girls asked her, 'Why are you getting all this – why are you getting all this food?' And she was like, 'She’s going to the nursing home to pass out food,'" Craven said. "I almost cried. I was like, 'Wow.' It kind of gets to me more because it’s like, 'Wow, I was in this position and now that I’m helping other people it makes me feel better.'”
Much like Craven, McClain also began volunteering when he was in high school.
“If you start early, you develop a habit and a pattern which will serve you your whole life,” he said.
Craven said it felt good to help others.
“And I wasn’t just handing out food," she said. "I was having conversations with these people and getting to know them.”
Since 2012, 41 Action News has hosted the Fill the Fridge to benefit Harvesters Community Food Network. Donations can be made online between Sept. 8 and 12, as well as at various locations throughout the Kansas City metro.