For Eric Windsor volunteering with the River Bend Foodbank isn't something your born into. That will however be the case for his son who was born in July.
Windsor, an engineer at John Deere Harvester Works in East Moline, and his wife, Caitlyn, are regular volunteers with River Bend. He participates in two to three mobile foodbank events per month for about 60 to 80 hours total per year (prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in fewer such events). He says they plan to introduce their son to volunteering with River Bend as he grows up.
Windsor, who attends the mobile events so frequently he's been mistaken for one of River Bend's employees, said he's had multiple rewarding experiences seeing joy, growth and pride from numerous volunteers and food recipients.
From the excitement of a first-time customer seeing all the food they can get and knowing they will be able to provide for their family for the upcoming days and weeks, to their children that tag along and get overjoyed about getting fruit snacks, or some other sweet treat, the look on their faces sticks with you for some time," Windsor said. "But I also see it quite often in the volunteers as well".
Jeremy Hammer, a committeeman at John Deere Davenport Works and UAW Local 281's community services chairman, has spent over five years volunteering at River Bend events and helping with fundraisers.
He credits the effort he sees from River Bend staff and other local charitable organizations, even during difficult times like the COVID-19 pandemic, for strengthening his commitment to the cause.
"My job with John Deere and my position in my UAW local give me opportunities that many in our community do not have," Hammer said. "I feel it is my duty and responsibility to offer them a chance at something better, even if it is just in the form a simple meal.
"The diversity of people and the strength that I get to experience on a daily basis just blows my mind. I often wonder how I would react if I was in the position some people find themselves in. Their strength and ability to deal with adversity is humbling."
Over the last five years, John Deere employees have volunteered over 5,000 hours and donated to River Bend Foodbank helping raise over $469,000 through the company's employee giving programs.
River Bend Foodbank can source five meals for every $1 raised, which means John Deere employees helped contribute an additional 2,345,000 meals through their volunteerism and donations.