By Luise Gleason, Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Whenever we tell stories about the impact of our work here at the Food Bank Coalition, we focus on our recipients, volunteers and donors. But there is actually one additional group of people that often goes unnoticed. It’s the silent helpers that come to pick up food, not for themselves but for someone else. Some are employed as caregivers like Cindy who attends our Public Food Distributions at the 2nd Baptist Church in Paso Robles. However, others give of their time only for the purpose of helping someone else in need.

One of these unsung heroes is Ruby who is known in the community as “Ruby Red”, as she told us herself, because she drives a red Toyota Corolla. Ruby visits our Public Neighborhood Food Distribution on the 3rd Tuesday of every month at the Senior Center in San Luis Obispo to collect a food share for an elderly woman that lives in a mobile home park for senior citizens. Both of them know each other from gatherings at their local religious community.

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Volunteer Mary (left) and Ruby (right) at the Senior Center in San Luis Obispo.

Ruby, whose husband manages the mobile home park called “Silver City” on South Higuera Street in San Luis Obispo, is well informed about the responsibilities that come with her care. She and the lady have filled out the alternate pick-up forms that are available for those who are unable to attend a distribution and have someone else pick up food for them. Ruby also knows that the lady has a monthly household income of less than $1,200 which falls within the income guidelines of the emergency food assistance program. “Many people live on a monthly budget that is barely enough to pay all of the bills and then they have to make sacrifices,” explained Ruby because financial struggles even forced the elderly lady to sell her car. So, in addition to delivering food, Ruby and her husband now also pick her up whenever they come together for their local community meetings.

What makes Ruby’s support even more special is that she had to pause picking up food for the elderly lady after many years of doing so because she suffered from osteoarthritis and had to undergo a hip replacement. Initially she had planned to take it easy on herself, but nobody else had time to collect the lady’s food share, so Ruby resumed to taking care of it. This truly selfless act is but one example of how our community takes care of each other in times of need. Thanks to people like Ruby who help us in our fight against hunger, we can continue to provide a vital safety net for those in need and make a lasting impact on our county as a whole.

Do you know another unsung hero in our community that we should highlight? Please email us at lgleason@slofoodbank.org to let us know!