Thousands answer the call for essential volunteerism in Memphis

Thousands answer the call for essential volunteerism in Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Essential workers don’t stop with those receiving a paycheck. Essential volunteers have helped feed, support, and care for thousands in the community since the pandemic started.

For those who need food, Mark Schielke is the first face many see at Catholic Charities mobile food pantry.

“This is my post,” Schielke said.

At the start of Lent, Schielke started volunteering at Catholic Charities’ food pantry, which was inside then. But as the pandemic hit, the food pantry moved outside and so did Schielke.

“I’m passionate about serving people,” he said. “I do it in my line of business. But I’m passionate about helping those less fortunate and just those who need the help.”

“We’ve served 3,000 people in this drive-thru over the last five weeks, and that would not be possible without our volunteers,” Catholic Charities Executive Director Kelley Henderson said.

While more and more people are being told to stay home, essential services like mobile food pantries wouldn’t be possible without the essential volunteers. They’re not doing it for a paycheck.

Thousands in Memphis have answered the call.

“A lot of the pantries have closed down. A lot of people are getting desperate,” Schielke said.

“We maintain social distancing. All of our volunteers are provided with PPE,” Henderson said.

Like a lot of people right now, Schielke lost his job just before the pandemic was declared.

“Nobody in my industry is hiring right now,” Schielke said.

While the future remains unclear, Schielke is certain about his spot in the Catholic Charities parking lot.

“It’s just the right thing to do,” he said.

Catholic Charities mobile food pantry runs Monday through Thursday from the organization’s parking lot off Jefferson and Cleveland.

If you want to learn more about volunteering a Catholic Charities, click here.

There are numerous in-person and remote opportunities around the city, to see them all click here.

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