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Volunteerism spreads to Mid-Missouri service agencies

Volunteerism doesn’t stop at the food bank.

Trucks leave the warehouse daily to deliver food to agencies across Mid-Missouri.

“I have been blessed in my lifetime. I ask everybody who comes through here to smile, because when you smile, you feel good. I like to be serving people and making them happy,” said volunteers Diana Boze, Judy Larson, and Julia Stricherz.

All of those are good reasons to be volunteering and giving back to their communities, from the Samaritan Center in Jefferson City to the Food Bank in Columbia, volunteers are the life blood of the operations.

Volunteers like Diana Boze spend three days per week volunteering, not because she has to, but because she wants to.

“I love people, I love to see their faces and especially the kids,” said Boze.

Knowing first hand how tough times can be, the time she spends here every week is her time, a time she can enjoy people.

“As a child, my mother was on welfare, so I feel like I need to give back to the community, because they helped me when I was child,” said Boze.

It was that humble upbringing she said she remembers every day when she sees kids. Volunteering isn’t just therapeutic for her, it’s her way of also educating others.

“I had one little boy and he came up to me and he said, ‘what is that on your arm?’ And I have a disease that my blood vessels come to the surface. I explained it to him and that’s what part of this is too, that I get to teach children about certain diseases. You know, they come back and asked what happened here? I have a C-PAP I sleep with, and they say, ‘oh really?’ and they get really excited. So it’s an educational thing also,” said Boze.

Time and time again, volunteers said, the kids keep them coming back. Judy Larson started volunteering after a speeding ticket two years ago, and has been coming back ever since.

“Kids come in here and they’re cranky and I’ll go up to them, and I’ll go, ‘how are you,’ and they’ll just sit there and be bashful at first, and they’ll start talking and start smiling. Now when they come in here every month, they come up and say, ‘I love you.’ Some of the kids I see every month and some I don’t, but when they do they’ll say, ‘hey, there’s the lady that helps people.'”

“I come from a low income family, so I know what it is like to see people have to go without. Or they can’t afford everything. I’m raising a grandson,” she said.

At the Samaritan Center in Jefferson City, 91-year-old Julia Stricherz has been driving 25 miles twice a week to volunteer for the past 15 years.

“When you have association with people, you appreciate that. My husband died in 1996 and other than a little dog, I don’t have any other companion,” said Stricherz.

Whether it’s the Samaritan Center in Jefferson City or the Central Pantry in Columbia, the volunteers have one thing in common; complete dedication.

“I plan on doing it for as long as god let me do it, a couple hours, three times a week, what is that? You could do that no matter how old you are,” said Stricherz.

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