The sounds of cans clanking on the metal shelves vibrates from the warehouse of Community Links Food Bank. Inside, volunteers sort food donations, including canned goods and groceries, to be offered to Texas families in need.
Siblings Katie and Sam McClung are just two of the many volunteers working to ensure Community Link can help those who need it most.
As a military family, the McClungs frequently move to new locations across the country. With the constant changing of location, online learning provides them an opportunity to stay on track with their education.
Now enrolled at Texas Virtual Academy at Hallsville (TVAH), Katie and Sam have found a new benefit to virtual school: the ability to balance excelling in class and giving back to their community.
“With TVAH, I am able to manage my time and balance my week based on my needs, and the needs of places I volunteer,” Katie said.
This balance has proven to be quite helpful. In just six months, Katie and Sam have spent more than 80 hours volunteering at Community Link, typically going in one or two days a week.
Both siblings work hard to make sure that the food bank continues to operate and provide for local families in their own unique roles.
Katie works to stock shelves, organize products, and make the shopping process smooth for clients. Sam works in the fridge area, unpacking refrigerated goods and stocking shelves, while also occasionally shopping for clients. Together, they are a part of the “well-oiled machine” that keeps the operation running, Katie said.
The siblings are proud of the work they are doing, but they realize it is not the way most of their peers would like to spend their free time. For them, however, the hard work of helping those in need is worth it.
When the work is tough, Katie said that it is helpful to imagine herself in the shoes of the person she is helping, and she encourages her fellow volunteers to do the same.
“You may be having a bad day, but they may be having a bad year. And you helping them is a blessing no matter what,” she said.
The McClungs are thankful they can get to know their neighbors while helping in an important way.
Katie and Sam’s mother, April, is glad to see her children getting involved in a cause that matters to them and is excited to see the lessons they learn.
“I hope they gain perspective,” April said. “When you know someone is out there helping you, as Katie and Sam are doing, you don’t feel as alone.” April also hopes that the work her children are doing can help someone else restore their faith in humanity with the knowledge that someone is looking out for them.
Both siblings agree with their mother and hope that their work has a powerful impact on those visiting the food bank. The work they have done so far with Community Links has taught them to work harder and give back, and both encourage others to search for opportunities to help those in need.