April is National Volunteer Month. To celebrate the more than 7,400 volunteers who serve the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank every year, the organization highlights and recognizes a few of the dedicated and loyal community leaders making a difference in the local fight against hunger with a special award.  

Lori Hart of Uniontown is the recipient of the Stark County Campus Volunteer of the Year award. Hart is vital to the operations of the Keith D. Monda Family Food Pantry & Resource Center. She volunteered 380 hours in 2022, helping register neighbors in the pantry, assisting them with shopping, and stocking the pantry shelves.

“Every day I've been in the pantry has been a positive experience,” said Hart. “Seeing firsthand that people are receiving help with feeding their families is satisfying, especially during these challenging times of high inflation and economic uncertainty.”

Eric Shamp of Green was recognized as the Main Campus Volunteer of the Year award winner. In 2022, Shamp volunteered 146 times for a total of 463 hours. He helps package food boxes for seniors, assists hunger-relief partners in the MarketPlace, serves families at drive-thru distributions and so much more.

“I love the mission and what the Foodbank does. I’m happy to do my part, and I’m happy to help people,” said Shamp. “It’s always a good feeling to volunteer at the Neighborhood Distribution and directly see and help people in need.”

The graduate class of 1975 from Glenwood High School, which has since merged with Oakwood High School to become Glenoak High School in Canton, received the Organization Volunteer Group of the Year award. The group began volunteering at the Stark County Campus in 2021 and brings a group of committed volunteers to serve on a monthly basis. They help sort and pack food for local families and assemble senior citizen food boxes.

“The Glenwood Class of 1975 started volunteering at our Stark County Campus only a few short months after we opened the new facility. They have always been consistent and helpful in their service, willing to help wherever needed,” said Tasha Ledrich, volunteer and guest experience supervisor for the Foodbank. “We are so very thankful for this group of classmates who simply want to give back to their community.”

Receiving the Corporate Volunteer Group of the Year award is Giant Eagle. Last year, Giant Eagle associates donated 106 hours of service to the Foodbank. Giant Eagle has been a loyal supporter for more than 20 years and is an excellent example of a strong, sustained community partnership.

“As a retailer focused on providing its customers with high-quality foods, we understand the impact of hunger in our communities,” said Frank Wiley, regional business leader for Giant Eagle. “Giant Eagle is deeply committed to combating hunger and food insecurity through food donations, financial support and associate volunteerism. We are honored and humbled to be recognized as the Corporate Volunteer Group of the Year and thank our team members for their commitment to helping our communities thrive.”

The Foodbank relies heavily on volunteers all year long. In 2022, it hosted nearly 7,400 volunteers who donated more than 55,000 hours of service. Volunteers are vital to the Foodbank’s ability to feed community members facing hunger. They serve in the warehouse by inspecting and packing donated food items, offer administrative support and help with special events, pick up food from food donors and deliver it to hot meal sites, assist families in the Foodbank’s food pantry and at drive-thru food distributions and so much more.

“The Foodbank would not exist if it weren’t for our army of volunteers,” said Dan Flowers, Foodbank president and CEO. “Thousands of volunteers pour themselves into this work each and every day to serve people they’ll likely never meet. They do this work because they’re passionate about service, they care for our neighbors who face hunger, and they’ve found community amongst one another. We strive to make them feel part of our Foodbank family every chance we get because we’ll be forever indebted to them.”

To learn more about the Foodbank’s volunteer opportunities, visit akroncantonfoodbank.org.