Best Places to Volunteer


By: Gabrielle Faletto and KT Mattern


Finding volunteer opportunities in your community can be easy, however finding the right one for the right cause can be challenging. Both Feed My Starving Children and The Northern Illinois Food Bank offer a one-of-a-kind experience. You get the chance to impact many lives of those who are hungry within just a couple hours and experience what it’s like making a difference in your community and in your world.

Feed My Starving Children: KT Mattern

When you first think of Feed my Starving Children you can probably smell the food being packaged away and hear the shouts as the group three tables down holler when they finish another package. With over 2 billion meals shipped to date, FMSC not only delivers, but truly helps people.

FMSC is the perfect place to go when you want to give back. This organization epitomizes helping those truly in need.

Located in Aurora, FMSC isn’t too far away and is easy to get to. Open on week days from 9:30 am to 9:30 pm and from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm on Saturdays, numerous time slots are open to the public, whatever your schedule is.

Signing up is as easy as sending a text from your phone. By signing up on the website you’re able to easily and efficiently get yourselves in for whatever day is open. When you arrive, there are computers right next to the doors, making the sign in process all that much easier.

After signing in, the leaders who work at the center will direct you to seats to watch a quick video before packing. While watching the video, volunteers can get a first hand experience of how their help can really change someone’s life.

Pumped up and ready to go, the volunteers are sent to the sinks in front of the packaging room where they must wash their hands to minimize the amount of bacteria going into the food. Donning hair nets and gloves, the volunteers are sent to tables with their groups to start packing.

Having perfected the process, packing runs easily and smoothly with the help of the employees who refill your food and bag needs.

Each group is set up a table labeled a certain country that the food they pack will go to. By signing them up with a certain country, the group can feel a more personal connection with where their food really is going. A sense of competition also fills the air as each table tries to fill the most boxes. With that element the packaging becomes more human instead of just dishing out random ingredients into packages.

After the time is up, volunteers are welcomed back to the warehouse where the employees will prepare to ship the food to their destinations. With an over 90% success rate of food getting to their proper locations, FMSC is one of the most rewarding organizations.

Northern Illinois Food Bank: Gabrielle Faletto

When comparing the Northern Illinois Food Bank to Feed My Starving Children, the food bank ensures access to food for our hungry neighbors within Northern Illinois whenever they’re in time of need. However, FMSC provides meals to those in need who are not only in Northern Illinois but all across the globe.

Those who love giving back to their community are able to choose whether they want to help with food sorting and packing, direct service opportunities or even become a skills based volunteer.

A great way to get service hours while also giving back to the community is by helping inspect, sort and pack food before it’s distributed to our neighbors in need. The Northern Illinois Food Bank provides food through a network of 800 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, youth and senior centers and has many other direct distribution programs to help those in need. However, in order to get this deed done, the food bank couldn’t do this task without the help of volunteers. Whether you sign up alone, with a friend or with a group once a week, once a month or once a year, every hour of assistance helps.

The closest food packing and sorting warehouse from Kaneland is located in Geneva. They have volunteer hours during the weekdays on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Along with weeknights: Tuesday’s from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. They also offer volunteer hours on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. With the variety of opportunities to help out, there is a guarantee you can find a spot. Speaking of which, on their webpage under the volunteer tab, you can choose what area you want to volunteer in and then view the calendar and sign up.

Right away when entering the facility, there are welcoming employees that direct you to computers where you can check in. Going into the warehouse, you can see that it is a very productive work space and there are many staff members who welcome you and show you how to make an impact on other people’s lives. When comparing it to FMSC, it is the place to go when you are volunteering on your own, need those community service hours and/or want to help in a close community settings. Whereas FMSC is more of a lively atmosphere that promotes teamwork, enthusiasm and accomplishment. Overall, these are two very rewarding experiences that will leave you with a sense of accomplishment and a giving heart.

Winner: Feed My Starving Children

* While both Feed My Starving Children and the Northern Illinois Food Bank do great things for people in our community and around the world, Feed my Starving Children is the better one.