Community Builder: 86 year-old woman serves at food bank for three decades

Gery Ballou poses for a photo with others at Harvest Hope Food Bank. (Source: WIS)
Gery Ballou poses for a photo with others at Harvest Hope Food Bank. (Source: WIS)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - For thirty years, Gery Ballou has been volunteering to help serve families in need at the Harvest Hope Food Bank on Shop Road.

In the Midlands alone, Harvest Hope Food Bank says they feed nearly 300 families a day. The staff adds without volunteers, it would be nearly impossible to meet the need.

That's why they say they nominated Ballou as a Community Builder.

At 86 years-young, every Wednesday morning Ballou shows up to volunteer for several hours. "It's part of my week every week," said Ballou. "If I don't come here, I feel like I miss something."

Ballou started volunteering when her husband Bill helped found Harvest Hope Food Bank back in 1981.

"We're getting more food than we use to, and also the size of the clients has increased terribly," said Ballou commenting on the changes over the years.

Bill passed away 13 years ago, but Gery still volunteers faithfully. She fills up shopping carts full of food for families in need.

"She's been here longer than anyone else has, and she has a vested interest in seeing that Harvest Hope is successful," said Debbie Summers who works at Harvest Hope and helped nominate Ms. Gery.

WIS and Mungo homes recently showed up to surprise Ms. Gery that she was our latest Community Builder honoree.

"You are such an inspiration and we want to thank you for everything you do for Harvest Hope food bank and for the community," said Kim O'Quinn with Mungo Homes.

"Thank you," said Ms. Gery. "This is such a surprise!"

While Ms. Gery was extremely excited to receive the honor, not long after she received her award she went right back to her work.

"She is the most dedicated person I have ever met," said Gloria Brawn another Harvest Hope volunteer.

As a Community Builder, Ms. Gery will receive $1,000 dollars to the charity of her choice.

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