Wanda Mills, 76, has volunteered with the Capital Area Food Bank for the last 12 years, serving over 3,000 volunteer hours.
Wanda Mills says she feels a ‘tug’ on her heart each day when she thinks of people, especially children, going to bed hungry. For the last 12 years, she has done what she can to give back and help address a need she calls both clear and ever-increasing, volunteering an astonishing estimated 3,000 hours of her time with the Capital Area Food Bank. As the 76-year-old Wanda explains, “I think we are all instructed by our God to help those who are less fortunate, and I decided the food bank was a good place to start.”
The Capital Area Food Bank provides 26 million meals for Central Texans each year! Such a huge need motivates Wanda and her husband Jim, both retired, to help fill it however they can, and she admits, “Having a volunteer assignment waiting for us each day motivates us to get up and get going. We think it keeps us young.” Wanda says the dedicated staff at the food bank makes volunteering a joy. “Working for a nonprofit is challenging, and yet they have such positive attitudes – I come away from the food bank with a smile on my face every week.”
For over 10 years she managed two programs called Ring Out Hunger and Ink Out Hunger, which allowed donors to support the food bank by dropping off old cell phones and ink / toner cartridges, respectively. Wanda currently serves in many other roles, delivering food collections and maintaining the food bank’s massive supporter database. Both she and Jim also serve as Volunteer Ambassadors, representing Capital Area Food Bank at events all over Austin, like the Martin Luther King Jr. Day March, Empty Bowl Project, and Reggae Fest. Wanda says all those events keep things interesting. “Jim and I have almost frozen at cold events and sizzled at hot events like the Hot Sauce Festival in August. At all the events, when we thank people for their support, they thank us in return for volunteering. That makes each event memorable.”
Wanda says she often has to explain to newcomers how all the parts work together to feed the hungry. “The food bank operation is huge,” she says. “Any food donated is just the first step in a process that requires many hands. I think the administrative work I do at the Food Bank gives the staff time to do other needed tasks. When Jim and I have on our Ambassador t-shirts, we try to motivate people to help this great organization fulfill its mission – collecting food to help address food insecurity. Both Jim and I use a big smile and a real enjoyment of meeting people and telling them about the Food Bank while on duty!”