The River Gives Unity | The River Food Pantry
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For Shantell, The River means more than giving back to the community. As a regular volunteer since May, Shantell has experienced how The River builds compassion between people during these times of division and hardship.

“With everything going on in the world today, The River unifies us instead of separating us,” said Shantell. “The River staff are loving, compassionate and open to different people. They help us realize that we are more alike than we are different. There are differences in the path we take or the color of our skin, but we all have something in common.”

Shantell believes The River is making a difference and he feels good to be a part of it. One of his most heartfelt volunteer experiences happened when people who were homeless walked up and said they had not eaten in days. Although The River was not open for curbside distribution at the moment, Shantell and the team immediately provided them food. He said, “The gratitude from the people we help brings a smile to my face and my heart.”

Before Shantell began volunteering, a friend suggested he visit The River for groceries and a meal. “Where I came from, I didn’t realize places like this existed,” said Shantell, who grew up in Chicago but has lived in Madison for the past 20 years. “From the first time I came here, everything has been very good. It’s very healthy eating, the amount of groceries is overwhelming, and you get the things you need like toiletries and laundry detergent.”

Overall, Shantell describes his experience with The River as eye-opening. He encourages anyone who is considering volunteer work to get involved here too!

This story was originally published in our Summer 2020 newsletter.

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