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AARP AARP States Community

Volunteers Weigh In: Harvest for the Hungry 2016

"Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile."- Albert Einstein

While the holiday season is notorious for canned food donations to local food banks and shelters, the shelves do not replenish themselves after the season has ended. The Spring Forward Harvest for the Hungry Food Drive is a campaign designed to encourage the act of giving and sharing with the less fortunate outside of the season. Although Maryland is one of the wealthiest states in this country, there are around 700,000 residents who do not know where their next meal is coming from. However, with the help of several campaign partners such as: Maryland Food Bank, Safeway, WBAL-TV 11 Baltimore, Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, Capital Area Food Bank, and the U.S. Postal Service, AARP Maryland aspires to make every year better than the previous.


The 2016 Harvest for the Hungry campaign took place February 27-March 5, 2016. With more than 200 volunteers staffing Safeway store tables throughout the eight days to encourage donations, 9,417 bags of food were sold--which equates to 78,479 meals! Further, 43 percent more bags per day were sold than last year!

None of this could have happened without the AARP Maryland State Office staff, volunteers, and our volunteers who served as store "team leaders."

Rose Hobson is a member of the volunteer AARP Maryland Executive Council and led volunteers in the Prince George's County region during the food drive campaign. Here is one of her most cherished memories of the week:

"Each day we tried to sell more bags than the day before and we realized that we
could help to provide

food to so many.  It only made us try harder and harder. The most heartwarming moment was when a young lady, 22 years of age, came over to the table and listened intently to us and what we were trying to achieve.  She immediately purchased six (6) bags.  She shared that she was a caregiver for her Grandparents in Florida and would send them money on a monthly basis.  She went to the cashier to make a purchase and as she did, she purchased ten (10) additional HFH bags.  What a blessing!!"- Rose Hobson, Team Leader in Seat Pleasant, Maryland
Delphine Ally is also an member of the volunteer AARP Maryland Executive Council and she lead the Montgomery County region during the week. Here is what she believes it means to be an AARP volunteer and her experience volunteering in the campaign this year:

“As an AARP volunteer, I consider myself privileged to have been provided the opportunity to give back to our community.  For 2016, through the generous efforts of Safeway stores and AARP
as the organizing entity, we encouraged and helped our community to make $10 donations to purchase bags of food for the Food

Banks throughout the state of Maryland.  Most impressive and personally rewarding was the fact that so many of our fellow Americans rose to the challenge.  My wish is that we led by example –by volunteering our time, I hope we made others feel that this is something they could also do in addition to a $10 donation, knowing that the collective efforts of all to help the ones in need will have a tremendous positive impact in alleviating hunger in our society."- Delphine Ally, Team Leader in Montgomery County, Maryland
The act of giving back and knowing that you are being of service to someone else is rewarding and manifests a feeling of accomplishment. Here is what AARP MD Executive Council member and team leader Chuck Ridgeway explains to be one of his biggest accomplishments of the week:

"When I was in the supermarket talking with the shoppers they seemed so intent on getting their shopping done and then off to d
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o whatever they had to do for the day.  Most were very receptive to the idea of helping the food challenged folks who 
were getting food by way of the food pantry.  We sold 50 bags that day and that accomplishment made me feel great!"- Chuck Ridgeway, Team Leader in Frederick, Maryland


AARP Maryland Communications Intern, Brandon Edwards, and some of his friends that also attend Towson University, participated in a Maryland Public Television pledge drive to kick-off the week long Harvest for the Hungry campaign. Brandon also volunteered his time at the Safeway store in Phoenix, Maryland during the food drive:

"When I was first asked to become a team leader for the Phoenix store, I was nervous and did not have enough confidence that I could be a team leader the store needed. However, with the help of the AARP Maryland staff, volunteers, friends, and my volunteer par
tner, [AARP Executive Council member] Paulette Cheeks, I gained the drive to excel at the position. From the Maryland Public Television pledge drive on that Saturday to kick off the campaign to the last bag being sold a week later, this experience is one that I will always remember."
Brandon Edwards, Team Leader in Phoenix, Maryland
During April's National Volunteer Week and beyond, we thank our many wonderful AARP volunteers for helping us to accomplish great things across the state! If you are interested in becoming a volunteer with AARP, please visit

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