Pix 1 First time volunteers Nancy and Ray Mager, seated, talk to Gary Hoyle and John Moore about volunteer opportunities at the fairgrounds with Gleaners.
Pix 2 The Callahan volunteers stand for a picture and a prayer prior to enjoying country pot luck on Monday, Nov 17. Once they have enjoyed some well-anticipated socializing, cajoling and friendship, they will welcome as many as 200 food recipients to receive fresh food.
Pix 3 Robert Hamrick seated second from left and his wife Charlotte to his right started serving Nassau County’s hungry five years ago.
From the book of Ruth
Volunteers distribute fresh food at Nassau County fairgrounds
By Jim Kelly, email@example.com
CALLAHAN FAIR GROUNDS - Gleaners Dispatch Volunteers at Callahan fair grounds enjoyed a holiday pot luck and fellowship last week at the Callahan fairgrounds.
“If you have never been to the fairgrounds on Mondays to observe this group as they receive, classify and then distribute fresh food to hungry people, you have missed a well-oiled machine in operation, said Robert Hamrick. He is the all-volunteer spiritual and community leader.
Hamrick and his wife Charlotte began working with Gleaners Dispatch, Inc, a Jacksonville 501c3 back in 2003 in Callahan. Together the volunteers feed all comers to the fairground with no pre-qualifications and no demands asked of people receiving food.
Charlotte Hamrick says her husband, a retired Jacksonville minister, actually started working with Gleaners in Jacksonville three years earlier.“He would help organize and distribute food when they were in the parking lot at Oakhill Church of the Nazarene at 4151 Old Middleburg Rd.
Later, Hamrick moved to Callahan and found the nutrition needs of the working poor, elderly and temporarily out of work due to illness or layoffs were not being adequately met.
Dave Fountain was only too glad to help fill the void by trucking hundreds of loaves of bread, fresh produce, fruit, sweets and even occasional dairy products to Callahan every Monday. The Callahan organizers provide fuel and maintenance money in return for the transportation.
“When we get to Callahan on Monday morning, all we need to do is open the door on the trucks and get out of the way,” said Eugene Albright, operations manager for Gleaners.
Hamrick:“I never have to ask anyone to do anything because the volunteers see what needs to be done and they do it without hesitation.”
Once the trucks are unloaded, the set up is always done the same way with bread being first, loaves and loaves of white, wheat, whole grain and other specialty breads, followed by sweets such as donuts, tarts, and other delights. Then comes fresh fruit, fresh seasonal vegetables from corn-on-the-cob to fresh kale to turnips and squash.
Appreciative recipients line up early to receive food for their families.
“If you know a hungry family, tell them to come see us at the fairgrounds on Monday’s, said Hamrick,“tell them food is available and they need to come get it; don’t be embarrassed, take care of your family now using our resources - and later - give back by volunteering your time or donating food or money to a good cause.