Making a Difference, Every Week

by Brian Paul

Recognizing Kids Eat Weekly Volunteers

Feeding Utah’s children is a demanding job. To meet the needs of the thousands of students Kids Eat supports, we count on our dedicated volunteers.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of our program. Of course, we need and greatly appreciate the financial support from generous donors, but our strong core of regular volunteers makes the difference. Their efforts help our organization run smoothly and effectively. And we have some amazing volunteers who roll up their sleeves each week to help us get the job done. Kids Eat provides hundreds of food-insecure children a weekly backpack filled with food to help get them through the weekend. We also provide food when school lunch programs are unavailable. This commitment requires year-round dedication, and our appreciation for our devoted volunteers cannot be overstated. Let’s highlight six of these amazing individuals and their passion to serve.

Big Smiles, Bigger Dedication

Randy Crebs and Dennis Aardema are our Thursday delivery drivers, and we couldn’t do it without them.

Both retired from the aerospace industry, they’ve known each other for over 30 years. And a mutual respect bolsters their relationship. Dennis respects Randy’s commitment to his staff and says he’s the best manager he’s ever worked for. “He always looks out for his employees and advocates for them and their needs,” Dennis says.

Throughout their careers, they spent a lot of time volunteering in the community, specifically in the school district and Children’s Center in the Magna and Kearns area. This shared love of service carried into their retirement years. It’s how they found themselves at Kids Eat. Giving back to the community and reminiscing about memories and mutual friends fuels their enthusiasm. They’re energetic, eager, and always on time—ready with big smiles and great attitudes. And it’s no surprise they have fascinating life experiences to share.

Randy has been a USANA Associate for the past 15 years. His son, Jared, is a USANA Emerald Director in San Antonio, Texas. Before his 28 year career in aerospace, Randy’s background included working in coalmine operations and mining engineering. He enjoys hiking, snowshoeing, traveling, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and helping others. Randy also volunteers at his granddaughter’s school occasionally as a teacher’s helper.

“I look forward to my Thursdays,” Randy says. “I love driving the truck and meeting the teachers and administrators. It’s rewarding for me to know this program is valued and makes a difference for the schools and students.”

Dennis was a journeyman plumber before his 38 year aerospace career as a mechanical maintenance supervisor. A natural handyman, he can be counted on to fix just about anything for friends and family. And he and his wife, Dauna, enjoy restoring old cars and have four classic rides they love to showcase at car shows and cruise nights. Caring for his aging parents, supporting them and always making sure they have what they need, is also a top priority for Dennis.

Dauna calls Dennis a social butterfly, because he’s incredibly friendly to everyone.

A modest man, he doesn’t often speak about himself, but he is steadfastly committed to Kids Eat. He’s a good neighbor, and is always ready to jump in to help others.

Involved in the Community

Jim and Karla Berk joined our team nine months ago. Realtors and private investigators, the Berks have a rich history of donating their time and energy throughout the valley. Jim volunteers for Sandy City Police as a Volunteer in Police Services (VIPS) and Karla has spent time as a ready tutor at Oaksdale Elementary. In addition, Karla works with Race Cats, a running program for elementary children.

But what they really wanted was to volunteer as a couple.

Karla discovered Kids Eat while watching the news. She learned many children in Utah rely on school meals throughout the week, but on weekends they don’t have food to eat until the next Monday. Immediately, she knew she wanted to get involved.

Her first day volunteering, Karla told Jim she would be delivering food to schools around Salt Lake Valley. He asked what vehicle she would be driving. Karla didn’t know, so Jim decided to go with her the first time. It’s a good thing he did, because it wasn’t the Kids Eat van she was driving, but our big truck! From that first day, the Berks have been our Wednesday delivery drivers. We appreciate their commitment and wonderful energy.

“Kids Eat has been a great way to help children,” Karla says. “It’s also a great way for us to be together doing something worthwhile.”

Jim and Karla also enjoy spending time golfing, hiking, swimming, and biking. With their youngest of three children heading to college this fall, it’s a been a transition time for them. And Kids Eat helps this power couple stay involved in the community, which is incredibly rewarding for them.

“We love going to the schools and feeling the appreciation we receive from the faculty,” Karla says. “They tell us what a difference this program makes in the lives of the children of low income families.”

The opportunity to serve at Kids Eat has brought fulfillment and purpose to their lives and strengthened their relationship. “If you’re looking for a great way to help children and the community, I encourage you to get involved with Kids Eat,” Karla says.

Helping Those in Need

Margaret Farrell and Denise Slane can be found at Kids Eat every Tuesday morning ready to get to work. They’re excited to make a difference as they prepare to process food at the pack lines.

Margaret and Denise met almost 20 years ago when they worked for Intermountain Healthcare, but they didn’t become close friends until after they both retired. Spend a moment with these two exceptional ladies and you feel the joy radiating off of them. Eavesdrop on their banter, and you’ll join in their laughter which fills the warehouse on Tuesdays.

About a year before Kids Eat joined the USANA Foundation, Margaret and Denise read about our organization in the Murray Journal. Inspired by the work Kids Eat was performing in the valley, they decided to join our fight and volunteered their time to fill weekend bags. Two years later, Margaret and Denise are still two of our most dedicated volunteers.

Ask, Why Kids Eat?, and they both quickly reply that volunteering here feels like they’re making a positive contribution in the world. And serving their community helps them stay active and engaged. Constantly on the move, Margaret and Denise also golf two to three times a week when they’re not filling bins at the warehouse.

Along with staying physically active, they keep their mental skills sharp.  Each is incredibly well-read and is up-to-date with current events—which brings us back to why they volunteer at Kids Eat. After reading about the issues of hunger in the Murray Journal, Margaret and Denise agreed it was an unacceptable problem in our community. They absolutely had to do something.

Margaret and Denise are both grandmothers with 11 grandkids between them. Though neither were born here, Utah is home, and they raised their families here. Margaret was an Army brat who moved around quite a bit in her youth, but landed in Utah after her father retired. It was the love of a dog that ultimately destined Denise’s arrival in our state. She, and her then husband, were living in Colorado when he was offered a transfer to either Australia or Utah. Back then, you weren’t able to travel outside of the country with your beloved pet, so they made their way to Utah.

Regardless of what brought them here, we’re excited to have these two ladies on our team. The hours they spend working in our facility allows us to reach more hungry children. Thank you, Margaret and Denise. Your shared energy and generous spirit inspire us.

Learn more about how you can help with our important mission.

Remember, 100 percent of all donations made to the USANA Foundation always go to changing the lives of those most in need around the world.

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