Oklahoma City Local 1141 members volunteer at a food bank stocking groceries for children in need. "Volunteering … broadens our horizons by helping our neighbors," local President Jennifer Duncan said. Credit: Jennifer Duncan

Oklahoma City Local 1141 members stepped up to volunteer at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma in February, continuing a tradition of solidarity and goodwill in the community.

"It is rewarding knowing that we are helping Oklahoma's most vulnerable," said Local 1141 President Jennifer Duncan, who organized the event. "Volunteering reminds everyone that there are people around us in need, and it broadens our horizons by helping our neighbors."

Duncan said she chose the food bank in part because it provides volunteer opportunities on Saturdays and is kid-friendly, allowing children 8 and up to volunteer as long as an adult is with them.

"It is our job as parents and members of society to lead by example," said Duncan, who also designed T-shirts for the 13 volunteers.

The team spent its day stocking groceries for Food for Kids backpacks.

Through the program, elementary school students receive a backpack full of kid-friendly, nonperishable and nutritious food on Fridays to sustain them over weekends and school holidays. The food bank delivers the backpacks to participating schools at no cost to the school or the child.

All told, the volunteers packed 12,540 pounds of food, enough for 10,450 meals. "Events like this help us connect to the community by improving it a little," Duncan said.

Local 1141 is no stranger to giving back. Members volunteer for Love OKC, a yearly event that offers free groceries, essentials boxes, dental work and other services to people in need.

They also do electric work at Peppers Ranch, a foster care community; build Habitat for Humanity homes; and staff water stops along the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon route each year.

Duncan is encouraging more good deeds. She is working to organize a volunteer project each quarter and, as participation increases, make it monthly.

"Oklahoma is a right-to-work state, and unions are frequently associated with negativity," she said. "I would like to help change that image by doing more community service and by helping others in need."

To that end, the local was readying for a community service day in May at the Food and Resource Center, a food pantry that allows clients to shop and select their groceries rather than receiving a pre-packed bag.

"Local 1141 members care about their community," Duncan said. "We will always step up to help others when asked."