Interview by: Carla Steiger
Don Allen, 79, is a dynamo. He works tirelessly for the Miamisburg Helping Hands Food Pantry which will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year. It’s one of 88 member agencies that The Foodbank supplies.
“The Helping Hands Food Pantry is set up like a business. There are 16 board members, a President, a Vice-President, Food Distribution Manager and receptionists,” he explained. “12 churches throughout Miamisburg staff Helping Hands. Each church is assigned a once-a-year monthly responsibility to staff the pantry,” he added.
Don Allen volunteers as Operations Manager where he oversees the day-to-day operations of the pantry. “Our biggest responsibility is to have food to distribute to clients and getting the best price on food that we do buy,” he said. “We get our food from The Foodbank in Dayton, donations, and from time to time we purchase food from stores. Kroger and Aldi’s are the two big ones. At Kroger we buy milk and eggs,” he said. Whenever possible, farmers from the Miamisburg area pitch in and make donations as well.”
He said that he has seen an increase in the number of families served by the pantry. “We serve an average of 325 families, but in November we had 360 families come in,” he stated. Helping Hands is open Monday from 6 – 8 pm, Wednesday and Friday from 2 – 4 pm. The pantry is also open on the last Saturday of the month from 10 – 12 pm.
Don’s work as a volunteer for Miamisburg Helping Hands came after a long and successful career. Retirement from GM in 1992 gave him the freedom to start his own remodeling firm, which he did until 2010. “Basically, I had to give it up for medical reasons. I have vision problems and heart issues and now have a pacemaker,” he explained. Although he no longer does it as a business, Don can make just about anything out of wood including “furniture, kitchen cabinets, wall units, recipe boxes, and many other things!”
Yet, woodwork was just not enough to satisfy him. As a man used to being actively engaged in the world, he found restrictions bothersome. “I didn’t want to sit around. I wanted to have something to do,” he stated energetically. “I told a neighbor, Barbara Standifer who is now the pantry’s President, about my need to do more. She told me about The Foodbank and suggested that I visit Helping Hands to see what I could do. I did, and I have been there 3 ½ years,” he said as he grinned.
“We work very, very diligently to folks in the Miamisburg community. “Working with everyone at The Foodbank is fantastic. I couldn’t ask for the opportunity to work with nicer people. They go above and beyond for us,” he said gratefully. It is a partnership that is sure to last for a very long time.