Volunteer Profile: Rhys McGill

Rhys McGill describes his experiences volunteering on the Second Harvest’s trucks: While most Toronto citizens may stumble out of their beds and scowl at their fridges trying to make the impossible breakfast choice between eggs, toast and cereal, a small group is wondering where and when their next meal is coming from.

Over the last two years, as a regular volunteer of Second Harvest as a Distribution and Recovery Assistant, I have witnessed the types of donated food and to whom it was being given to. Various shelters and kitchens rely upon the daily allotment of food provided to them by Second Harvest.

My role at Second Harvest involves the recovery and distribution of food, typically volunteering on either a Saturday or Sunday every couple of weeks for around six hours per day. The work is extremely tiring, but it pays off in the end, as it is quite rewarding to feel you are helping those that are less fortunate than yourself. The task of food recovery and donation is a daily logistical challenge that is managed by a small leadership framework and a large team of volunteers collecting food from various corporate donations and donating to agencies with need.

While working with Second Harvest, I have been a part of a small but energetic, passionate, and determined group that can sort through the organizational challenges and logistics to ensure that the trucks keep running daily to supply the needs of a variety of shelters and kitchens in Toronto. Each shift I am involved with a recovery and distribution team to establish a manifest, solicitation centre and distribution list of food for the day. By the end of the day, in one truck alone, we will have picked-up and delivered between 3 to 6 tons of food to various charitable kitchens and shelters.

When on the front lines of Second Harvest’s operations, physically soliciting, collecting and off-loading food into recipients’ hands, it is extremely easy to understand how this simple act is one bright image of a day in which can be so dark for others. The Good Neighbours Club is but one club that is a recipient of Second Harvest’s services. The Good Neighbours Club relies on Second Harvest for all of its daily meat and vegetables; without them, they would rely on their increasingly small budget to feed over four hundred men a day.

Getting involved with the logistical and organization side of the charity for an extended period of time has allowed me to develop and hone operation, production and marketing skills that I will be able to use and enhance in my future endeavours. But the real joy in this activity is in helping to make a real difference in people’s lives.