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Corporate volunteers back out of service work amid coronavirus concerns

Posted at 5:35 PM, Mar 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-16 17:35:31-04

BALTIMORE — As people across the state take part in social distancing some organizations are seeing adverse effects.

The Maryland Food Banks said it is experiencing a drop in volunteers. The drop could impact services.

While the goal at the Maryland Food Bank is to end hunger in our state it become harder with less people helping out.

Volunteers like John Hejl are responsible for making sure boxes filled with food and other necessities get to where they're needed most. He's a regular at the warehouse.

"I volunteer two days a week. Mondays and Fridays and then I bring in a crew from my Church's men group,” said Hejl.

This weekend he'll be back. He's picking up additional volunteer hours after several corporate volunteers canceled because of Coronavirus concerns.

"That's one of the biggest challenges we're facing right now,” said Maryland Food Bank President & CEO Carmen Del Guercio. “As this Coronavirus continues to rise more and more volunteers are canceling their volunteer. That’s causing problems like our ability to package much needed food to get out into the communities as quickly as we can."

Del Guercio told WMAR 2 News no food shipments have been delayed, However, the organization is changing work flow.

On Monday staff members met to discuss how to minimize contact with high risk clients. That could mean some drop off locations will double up on deliveries.

The food bank said it is an evolving situation.

"It's all hands-on deck,” said Del Guercio. “This has been on the top of mind for a lot of folks and we have really started to pivot as an organization. We have to make sure we're there for folks for their everyday needs as well as being in the best position to address this need going forward."

As for volunteers who do show up, food bank administrators are following all CDC recommendations. Gloves will be on hand and their will be hand sanitizer readily available.

John Hajl said he feels safe and will show up for his added Saturday shift.

"I'm free on Saturday,” he said. “I’ll just jump in and help out."

Anyone looking to volunteer is encouraged to contact the Maryland Food Bank. Coordinators are looking to work with college students who are on extended spring break. People ages 13 to 17 are welcome with a chaperone.

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