I appreciate John Hubbuch’s recommendation that people find a volunteer opportunity that suits their interests and abilities. [Some words of advice for a would-be volunteer, Viewpoints, April 28] But, I am saddened by his emphasis on the challenges sometimes encountered when volunteering, and his negative comments with regard to the Oak Park and River Forest Food Pantry.

My family has been volunteering at the OPRF Food Pantry for about a year. At least once a month, we pack bags, distribute food to clients and rescue fresh-food donations from local grocers. Walking home recently from a distribution shift, we each commented on how simple it is to help at the pantry, and how easy the well-organized leaders make it for us to schedule a shift, show up and get to work. Ironically, packing bags is one of our favorite tasks. It has also created an opportunity for my children, both middle school ages, to understand what food staples really are, deepening their appreciation for the “luxury” of fresh meat, vegetables and fruits that we are fortunate to enjoy in our home.

I am at a loss to understand Mr. Hubbuch’s remark, “our clients weren’t very grateful,” and can only wonder if it was the OPRF Food Pantry he volunteered for. I have personally worked with many clients at the OPRF Food Pantry, some who volunteer themselves, and have only experienced an immense depth of appreciation for the organization’s efforts. The following is typical of the client comments received, this shared just this month at a food distribution:

“I can’t believe that we are in the position to need help, and that there are so many other people in this position in this country. My husband’s company went bankrupt. We never thought we would be in this position; we were always able to help others and now we need help. I am just so grateful that you (the OPRF Food Pantry) are here for people like us and all the others who are in need.”

The OPRF Food Pantry (www.oprffoodpantry.org), like so many social service organizations, is working double-time to respond to the overwhelming increase in need brought on by our economic crisis. More families than we may realize – friends and neighbors alike – are at a critical juncture. While I respect Mr. Hubbuch’s right to have an opinion, I regret that he felt compelled to make jest of the importance of volunteering as so many are struggling and, further, that he shed such an unfair light on the OPRF Food Pantry.

• Linda Stephens is an Oak Park resident, volunteer at the Oak Park and River Forest Food Pantry and member of the organization’s steering committee.

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