For Glen and Marjory Thompson, volunteering has been a way of life.
In that spirit, the couple has recently returned as iterim volunteer coordinators to the The Lord's Cupboard Food Bank after only a seven-month leave since 2002.
"We wanted to retire," she said. "We've been married 65 years, and we thought it was time to hang our hats at home and it seemed right to let someone else take over."
Marjory and Glen Thompson, co-ordinators of the Lord’s Cupboard, at 127 10th St. N., pose among some of the goods collected that will be distributed to those in need.
That idea didn't last long.
The Thompsons' successor took over as volunteer coordinator at the beginning of March. However, other situations arose and caused her to leave the position.
"She has now taken a full-time job, which she needed to do," Glen Thompson said.
Age: He is 86. She is 84.
Town: Fort Dodge
Position: Interim volunteer coordinators at The Lord's Cupboard Food Bank
Hours worked: 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Fridays
How to reach them: 576-7586 through First United Methodist Church.
The Thompsons returned as interim volunteer coordinators at The Lord's Cupboard two weeks ago and they will continue in that role until another coordinator can be found, Marjory Thompson said.
"We don't know how long it will be, but it's just fun to get back and see the volunteers," she said.
There are between 15 and 18 volunteers who help with the food bank each day it is open. The volunteers help stock shelves, fill food orders for clients, receive donations and do anything else they need to do to keep the food bank running smoothly.
"We accept donations at any time. People can take food or money to First United Methodist Church on days we're not open," she said. "We can usually make better use of money than people buying food at the grocery store because we usually get a good break on our purchases."
As volunteer coordinators, the Thompsons receive donations of food or money, purchase food to provide a rounded diet, prepare to get food, arrange volunteers and meet the needs of their clients.
"In addition to donations, we purchase about $2,000 worth of food every month," she said. "We can also get food from the Food Bank of Iowa in Des Moines."
The Lord's Cupboard works in connection with Upper Des Moines Opportunity Inc. Fort Dodge office.
"They do all the screening for clients," she said. "We receive from them a referral that tells me the name, the number in the family and how many times they have been to the food bank."
Each family can go to The Lord's Cupboard no more than four times in a year, Glen Thompson said.
The clients check off items on a sheet that lists all the food products available. The food is distributed according to the number of family members.
"They go away with $40, $50 or $60 worth of food depending on the size of the family. If it's a big family, they go away with a lot more than that," she said.
The number of people they serve varies.
"This past September, there were 147 clients - or separate families - who represented 337 people. In 2007, there were 1,694 total clients representing 4,103 people," he said.
The Thompsons said they are happy to be back and to be able to help out.
"A person coming for the first time is always surprised by the amount of choices they have. They always seem to be excited and pleased to receive the amount that they do. Most of them are very grateful for the help that they get."
The couple farmed in Benton County for 17 years after they were married. Glen Thompson started college at the University of Iowa in Iowa City when he was 40. After graduation, he joined the staff at Iowa State University as an extension/recreation specialist for 11 years before he retired. Marjory Thompson retired as the secretary in the Dean of Students office at Iowa State.
"He retired on Jan. 1 and we moved to Arkansas on Jan. 5 to work with Heifer International - a world hunger organization," she said.
"When we went down for Heifer Project, we went down for one year and ended up there for 11," he said.
They moved to Fort Dodge in November 1999 and he started volunteering at The Lord's Cupboard in 2000. She took over the position of volunteer coordinator in the summer of 2002.
The Thompsons have three children. Their son Michael Thompson, lives in Morton Grove, Ill.; daughter Beth Izold, lives in Anchorage, Alaska; and Gayle Reed, lives in Humboldt. They are active members of Trinity United Methodist Church.
"Volunteering is just something we like to do and something that we always felt was part of our mission," he said.
Local organizations and businesses help contribute to the food bank by holding food drives, they said.
"It is because of the tremendous support that we can keep going, and we do want to thank not only the volunteers, but those who give food and money," he said. "They've just been really good helping to collect."
Even people who have been helped in the past sometimes give back.
"We've had some who have been helped, got on their feet and helped back," she said. "They would bring groceries in or make donations because of the help they got."
But for the Thompsons, helping others goes beyond the tangible.
"I think the reason that we have followed the volunteer trail is because we're strong Christians. We believe that we have a mission in life, and we're given skills to fulfill that mission," she said. "That's where we feel the most fulfilled - it's volunteering."
Contact Angela Burch at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org