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PEF members volunteer with Capital District Area Labor Federation at drive-thru food pantry

By KATE MOSTACCIO

Many hands make light work.

That was one of the reasons Cheryl Robinson and Sheryl Sperry, PEF members from the Office of the New York State Comptroller and the New York State Insurance Fund respectively, volunteered to assist the Capital District Area Labor Federation (CDALF) at a drive-thru food pantry event it hosted earlier this summer at the Albany Labor Temple.

“I believe in helping whenever possible,” said Robinson. “I believe in volunteerism. Volunteering helps the community, the families in that community and the volunteer.”

CDALF collaborated with the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern NY to host the drive-thru pantry. The food bank has been hosting similar events all over the region, where working people in need can come to a location and receive food for their entire family. In order for the drive-thru pantries to be successful, the food bank needs partners – which is where CDALF and union members like Robinson and Sperry come in.

“I felt an obligation to volunteer, as a member of PEF, and also being chair of the Region 8 Charitable Committee,” said Sperry. “I was surprised by the amount of volunteers from various labor unions.”

Sperry said CDALF had everything set up which made volunteering simple and streamlined.

“The jobs consisted of placing already packed bags of food and separate containers of eggs and milk in families’ vehicles,” she said. “There were several staging areas where up to four vehicles could be taken care of at once. There was also a group leader who would ask the people in the vehicles how many family members and how many families as there were several people in most vehicles.”

While some volunteers worked at the cars, others kept the perishable food out of direct sunlight and replenished stations with milk and eggs. It was a well-organized system. When cars slowed, volunteers took to their social media accounts to try to drum up more traffic.

Families were grateful for the support. Sperry and Robinson interacted with one elderly woman at the end of the drive who said it was hard to get out and find places that were giving out food.

The experience was rewarding for both.

“I think we become better people when we take the time to serve others,” Robinson said.