ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Summer is one of the busiest times for food pantries, as kids are out of school and families have to provide more meals at home. For the St. Petersburg Free Clinic’s “We Help Services” food pantry, this is also the time of year when they need more volunteers.

The line begins to form outside of the clinic a half hour before the clinic opens on weekdays. Some people come an hour early to get their spot in line. At times, clients wait two hours to get their food for the month. Leaders at the clinic say they need about 40 more volunteers. If more people spend a few hours helping at the pantry, the line will move faster.

“It’s important for me to do meaningful volunteer work and this fills my heart,” said Paula Martel. 

She’s been volunteering at the food pantry for a year. She enjoys going there twice a week to help out. 

Martel is one of many volunteers who spend time stocking the pantry, and taking clients around to fill shopping carts with food. 

“When you don’t have, they have and they give. All you have to do is ask,” said Kathy Evans.

Evans arrived to the pantry about 10 minutes before they opened. She waited more than an hour to get her food. 

“If they had more people to help, then you’d get out of here even quicker. But I think that’s fast,” said Evans.

The clients are thankful for the food and other services the clinic offers. More volunteers would allow the clinic to be able to help even more people.

Martel says she hopes others will consider volunteering.

“I leave here grateful every day,” said Martel. 

The clinic has hours beginning at 8:30 a.m. weekdays and is also open Thursday evenings to allow people who work full time but still need help to come by. 

For more information about volunteering, click here.