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Faithful volunteers backbone of Westmoreland County Food Bank

Mary Pickels
| Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, 8:55 p.m.
New Alexandria resident Jerome Eidemiller, 90, volunteers at the Westmoreland County Food Bank on a weekly basis, assisting the nonprofit for more than 10 years.
Westmoreland County Food Bank
New Alexandria resident Jerome Eidemiller, 90, volunteers at the Westmoreland County Food Bank on a weekly basis, assisting the nonprofit for more than 10 years.

For more than a decade, Jerome Eidemiller, 90, has been volunteering at the Westmoreland County Food Bank.

He's among the thousands of high school students, civic organization members, local business employees and individuals who pack food boxes, assist with Operation Fresh Express deliveries and glean donated produce from farmers' fields.

Volunteers fill an important role with the Delmont nonprofit, agency officials say.

Eidemiller and his wife of 65 years, Mary, are the parents of six, grandparents of 12 and great-grandparents of six.

In a recent food bank newsletter, the New Alexandria man talks about being inspired to volunteer after attending a prayer breakfast.

A food bank representative spoke about the agency's programs and services and encouraged those attending to volunteer their time to help fight hunger.

It struck a chord with Eidemiller, whose family operated a farm for several generations.

Most Wednesdays, he reports to the food bank warehouse, where he takes on various duties.

“With eggs, we go through the cartons to get out the broken ones. With dairy products, we are checking for expiration dates,” he says.

Though he was fortunate enough not to have struggled with hunger or the ability to feed his family, he notes several benefits from volunteering.

“Doing for other people. And it's benefitted me in getting to know how to talk to people more. I used to be shy,” he says.

“We rely extremely heavily on volunteers. ... They are just as important as the dollars,” says Kris Douglas, food bank executive director.

And they can always use more, says Jennifer Miller, director of development.

“Unfortunately, our core volunteer base is aging,” she says.

Details: 724-468-8660 or westmorelandfoodbank.org/volunteer/volunteer-info

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MaryPickels.

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