Volunteers in a frenzy to provide meals to region’s struggling families

Food Bank will feed 30,000-plus on Thanksgiving

Volunteers Vern Tillberg, left, Dennis Anker and Troy Dobbs examine and pack eggs Thursday at the Kingman Area Food Bank.

Photo by Bob Leal.

Volunteers Vern Tillberg, left, Dennis Anker and Troy Dobbs examine and pack eggs Thursday at the Kingman Area Food Bank.

KINGMAN – There was a swarm of activity Thursday at the Kingman Area Food Bank on Butler Avenue as people were gathering food supplies.

“Everybody is calling and asking how they are going to get their free turkey for Thanksgiving,” said Executive Director Catherine Walker. “This is probably the busiest I’ve seen it. I have been with the Kingman Area Food Bank now for six months.”

“We’re providing a holiday meal. It may not be a turkey due to the price of turkeys being so high. We’re also providing hams,” she said.

Walker purchased 1,000 hams and has several hundred of both turkeys and roasted chickens.

The food bank’s role in the community keeps increasing. In 2012, 15,000 people were helped. In 2015, more than 30,000 folks were served.

“I know that we’ll be busting that 30,000 number this year,” said Walker. “I’m going to prepare for over 40,000 next year, and probably 50,000 the year after if the numbers continue to increase in the pattern that we’re seeing right now.”

Walker pointed out that the KAFB is not just for people in Kingman. She has clients from the surrounding areas as well, such as Dolan Springs, Yucca and Peach Springs.

People are limited to one trip to the KAFB every 30 days to get food. Helping them will be 25-30 volunteers. The hours are 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Donations are always welcome, according to Walker.

“What I’m asking people to do is call ahead if they know they want to donate something.

“I’m actually reorganizing the food bank so I know what my inventory levels are so I can monitor the food supply,” Walker said.

Those who would like to sign up to receive food must show up at the KAFB, located at 2930 E. Butler Ave., to fill out a questionnaire. That information is plugged into a computer program to see if they qualify.

Those who qualify can received a grocery cart full of food. Those who don’t qualify can still receive a “food bag.” “I’m not sending anyone away hungry,” said Walker. There’s no time to procrastinate. The food bank will be closed Wednesday through Sunday for the holiday.

“We’re always looking for cash donations. We’re always looking for good volunteers dedicated to helping the cause,” said Walker. She told a story about a man who dropped off 12 turkeys Thursday. He wanted to remain anonymous.

“I volunteer four days a week from around 6 in the morning to around 1 p.m. It makes me feel good. I’m doing something for the community. I’ll be 70 years old next month. I don’t want to sit at home and do nothing,” said Catherine Leavitt.

“I’ve got extra time so I come here and volunteer. It makes me feel very, very good. I think my community service people are really good. They’re great people. I couldn’t ask for a finer bunch of people,” Leavitt said.

“They’re always busy. I tell them not to stand idle. They have to be busy,” said Leavitt, who cooks up meals during the day for the workers.

“I like working under Catherine (Walker). She’s done a fantastic job here. She’s got big dreams, and I hope that they all come true.”

Another happy volunteer is Doris Huff, who was packing one-pound bags of coffee.

“I was here a year in October, and I love it. I think this food bank is wonderful. They do a great, great job,” said Huff. “We get a lot of people who need help. It’s very serious. But I enjoy it, I really do.”

Huff continued, “I do a little bit of everything. I always have something different. It’s a lot of fun. I belong to the Moose, so I do a lot of things with them. My whole day is filled up. It’s good.”

“By all means, donate,” Huff said. And for those who need help, “come on in,” she said.

“I have lived in nine countries and Arizona is my 10th state. I have never seen a community come out and help other people like this. They open their wallets. They come in and give me hours,” said Walker. She said she can see that the atmosphere has changed for the better. Walker said now people who come in to help are laughing and joking with one another.