The basics: Shirley Ward, 80, is a volunteer at the Madera County Food Bank. She and husband Mark have been married 60 years. They have two adult sons, three grandsons and one granddaughter.
What she does: Ward is one of eight volunteers who pack up to 700 boxes of food with nonperishable items in the agency's Emergency Food Assistance Program every Monday. The boxes are then delivered to needy families throughout Madera County. Ward and two others are among the original volunteers who started with the program about eight years ago.
Between April and October, Ward also volunteers in the agency's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program which provides fresh fruits and vegetables at a low cost to seniors.
Why she does it: "It's a lot of fun, even though it is a lot of work," Ward said. "It's three hours of filling 500 to 700 boxes. It's cold in the winter and hot in the summer, but it's fun."
"I enjoy the fact that we're filling these boxes and they are going to people who really need the food."
The turning point: A friend told Ward about the agency's SNAP program for seniors. Ward went to the giveaway to pick up some fruits and vegetables for herself and ended up staying to help.
"I went through the lines and got my items and took them to my car," Ward said. "There was a big mess of boxes and I went back and I asked if I could help pick up the boxes. So, I got started doing that and just started helping out and became a regular distributor."
Details, details: Ward retired from the Madera Unified Transportation Department 19 years ago as a bus driver trainer and instructor. She worked four years before that as a Coalinga bus driver. Ward also is an accomplished photographer and quilter.
What others say: "The one thing about Shirley and all our volunteers is they are so committed," said Ryan McWherter, the food bank's executive director. "Some people volunteer here and there, but you don't have to call these people. They're there. They are committed, dependable and they have the heart to help the people."
How you can help: Call the food bank at (559) 674-1482 about volunteer opportunities or to make donations.
-- BoNhia Lee