COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Having a place to go when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from.
The Mid-Ohio Food Collective is that place, and so much more, for many. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the collective is serving 15 percent more people in need, with no end in sight.
Like most charities, the food collective is short on volunteers, and wish it had more helpers like Tom Dray.
Dray, 81, is packing boxes with food for pickup at the food collective, saying he seems to have found his new love.
“Well, I like the idea of volunteering where you’re helping people,” Dray said with a smile.
He found the Mid-Ohio Food Collective in April when he said staying safe at home in the pandemic wasn’t healthy.
“When you sit around and think about things like that too long, it brings on depression and I didn’t want that to happen,” Dray said.
He has already lost a lot.
“We were married for 55 years, and we had just renewed our vows six weeks before she passed away,” Dray said of his wife Joan, who used to volunteer at a soup kitchen that shut down during the pandemic.
Feeding the hungry runs in the family.
“They gave me a tour of the place and I started the following Monday and I’ve been here ever since,” Dray said of the food collective.
Four hours a day, five days a week.
“Tom is amazing,” said Malik Perkins, spokesman for the Mid-Ohio Food Collective. “He comes in with a great attitude, does what he can and as you can see, he enjoys himself.”
“Maybe I should start singing? Dancing?” Dray said with a laugh.
Dray said his volunteer work does just as much for him as it does for others. Three years in the Army, 19 years active duty in the National Guard, 15 years as a warehouse worker. This is Dray’s resume builder: full-time volunteer.
“It’s a great job and something I don’t want to give up soon,” he said.
Dray said Joan would approve.
“She would be happy,” he said.