Volunteers are the backbone of the Salvation Army’s Food Pantry.

by Bobby Anderson, Staff Writer

The first year of Rick Dimit’s retirement went by in the blink of an eye.
By the time the second year rolled around he realized he needed to do something to get the most of out of his retirement.
“I wanted to do community work that was equivalent to about a day for a non-profit,” Dimit said, unfolding the story of how he got plugged into the Salvation Army Food Pantry.
Dimit’s professional life included serving as the human resources director at Francis Tuttle Technology Center. He also served as the equity officer at the University of Central Oklahoma as well as putting his law degree to work as inhouse counsel for the university.
But with all that behind him and more free time than he ever imagined he decided to commit to something once again that was bigger than himself.
“Once you’re down here and see the work they do and meet the people you basically just want to be a small part of their team,” said Dimit, who helps stock the pantry before visitors arrive. “They’re helping people that have desperate needs in a lot of areas of their life. It keeps me connected and makes me still feel like I’m part of a group and I really just appreciate what the organization stands for.”
Dee Watts serves as the social services ministry director. She says volunteers like Dimit are part of her “Salvation Army sunshine.”
“The fact we can get quality volunteers like Rick, they help us do our mission in the fact they’re not only giving people some food but they’re being kind and compassionate. It’s so important to me and the Salvation Army that we leave people intact. When they come they are honored and respected.”
“You might be coming here for something but it’s no different than if I were in that same position I would want to be treated that way.”
Currently The Salvation Army is in need of volunteers to serve in its Client Choice Food Pantry at its Oklahoma City location.
“We have seen an increase in donations for which we are extremely thankful,” said Liz Banks, volunteer coordinator. “With the increase of donations comes an increase in need of volunteers to help stock the shelves in the pantry and to serve clients.”
Dimit admits he may never truly understand the depth of how much the Salvation Army helps those in need.
“I couldn’t believe the pantry, the kitchen and after watching what they do at the holidays and so on I still don’t totally understand what they do but it’s just amazing how much is here to serve the community,” Dimit said. “A lot of people don’t understand that people walk through those doors and they have horrific needs and there is somebody here that if someone can’t address they’re getting another agency to help.”
“It’s just incredible.”
Volunteer duties may include assisting clients as they shop the pantry, preparing items before being placed on pantry shelves, and keeping the pantry shelves stocked. Volunteers are needed Monday through Friday at 1001 N Pennsylvania Avenue for the following shifts:
* Monday: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. (Stock pantry) / 1 to 4 p.m. (Assist clients with groceries)
* Tuesday: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. (Stock pantry) / 1 to 3 p.m. (Stock pantry)
* Wednesday: 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. (Assist clients with groceries) / 1 to 4 p.m. (Assist clients with groceries) / 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Stock pantry)
* Thursday: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Stock pantry)
* Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. (Assist clients with groceries) / 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Stock pantry)
Watts urges people needing assistance to come to the pantry first before they start spending their limited monthly benefits like Social Security or food stamps.
“Let me see how much I can give you first so it will stretch,” Watts said. “That’s less out of your pockets.”
To learn more about this opportunity, please contact Liz Banks at 405-246-1107 or via email, [email protected].
Dimit admits if he can do it anyone can. Watts agrees.
“We can teach them whatever needs to be taught but just for them to be kind and generous and flexible with us,” Watts said of volunteer qualities. “We need someone with a servant’s heart – that nothing is too beyond them or too difficult.”