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Organizations across southern Arizona in need of volunteers

Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 7:54 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - At the start of the pandemic, many people gave back.

They volunteered at food banks, vaccination clinics and more. Nearly two years in, non-profits in southern Arizona are now seeking urgent help as their demand for service rises and help slows.

During hot summer days, it’s normal for the Salvation Army to head to parks handing out cold water for their “Operation Chill Out.”

“We bring ice water and cold water,” said David Oh, the Salvation Army Tucson Area Coordinator.

They rely on donations of water, clothes, sunglasses and more to help the less fortunate. However, those donations have just about dried up.

“This year, to be honest with you, I had to go to Costco every other day,” said Oh.

He said they have gotten about a tenth of the water donations they normally would. During their operation, the organization goes through a pallet of water a day. While donations have been down, they have seen a rise in people experiencing homelessness.

“Especially over the last few months at our cooling center, we can tell there’s a lot of new homeless,” said Oh.

Normally bringing in a handful of volunteers every day, they are grateful for the one-to-two that they’ve normally had volunteering.

The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona was busier than ever during the pandemic after handing out more than 85 million pounds of food.

“Which is well above what we would do in a normal year. We would do about 68-70 million pounds,” said Norma Cable, a public relations and marketing specialist at the Community Food Bank Southern Arizona.

The Arizona Guard has been a large player in helping families at the food bank — coordinating and providing man power for distribution and collection. However, the food bank is unsure how long they will be able to stay to help. When they leave, around 50-60 volunteers will need to help instead of those in a uniform.

“The Guard came in and picked up where volunteers could not come in,” said Cable. “The Guard cannot stay with us forever, and we need to support this work.”

The Red Cross is also seeing a high need for volunteers. In search of those who can give blood as nation supplies creep ever lower, and who can give their time. The Southern Arizona chapter of the Red Cross said about the same five volunteers have been deploying to home fires in the area. Just in the last few days, Tucson Fire Department said they have responded to more than 15 working fires, and nearly a third were home fires.

“On average, we’re responding to about 3-5 house fires a week. So, the need there is critical,” said Courtney Slanaker, the executive director for the Southern Arizona chapter of the Red Cross. “We are seeing shortages across southern Arizona in volunteers stepping up in those disaster responder roles.”

The Pima Animal Care Center, which is filled to the brim with pets in dire need of fosters and adopters, is asking for the public’s help too.

Just what is sparking the need across all these organizations for volunteers is unknown. Perhaps people are tired, facing their own financial troubles or concerned about the pandemic. Regardless, they all say they are grateful for whatever help they may get and also follow CDC guidelines. Without volunteers, their missions wouldn’t be completed.

“As we look at the future, we only work with volunteer support there’s no way we could do this work without it,” said Cable.

To volunteer or donate to the Salvation Army, go here.

To volunteer with the Southern Arizona Red Cross, go here.

To volunteer at the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, go here.

For information on adoptions and fosters at PACC, go here.

Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.