By Shawn Kirkpatrick
Volunteer Barbara Dollar’s story begins in Berlin, Germany, during World War II. There was nothing to eat and it was a struggle to stay alive. “Times were tough when I was little. The Soviets (Russians) were all around us. The Americans kept us from starving and freezing to death by giving us food and blankets.”
After the war ended, Dollar came to the United States in 1958 to visit her sister. She was 19. She soon met her husband who was in the Army Airborne, at the time. He had just gotten back from serving in Germany. Ironic but true. “I worked in a drugstore for his father and that’s where we met. After we got married, we had two oversea tours, one in Germany and one in Liberia on the West African coast,” Dollar recalls. “After he retired we came back to the U.S. and he worked as an ROTC teacher in Illinois, and then at Auburn High School. I love it here (Opelika). I’ve lived here 36 years.”
For the past 16 years, Dollar has volunteered at the Food Bank of East Alabama’s Community Market with the Brown Bag program for seniors. “I enjoy my volunteering especially at the food bank. I grew up poor because of the war. Volunteering was always something inside of me that I want to help other people I want to give back,” Dollar said. “It’s not that I am a do-gooder, that’s not me. There comes a time when I wanted to pay back.”
Seniors 60 and older, who shop at the Community Market, can fill their carts and “bags” with 40 pounds of free food at each visit. There is everything found at a grocery store: pantry staples, frozen foods, fresh produce, cleaning products and personal care items. “Some people are embarrassed to shop there, but they shouldn’t be,” Dollar added. “It is there to help people, to give them food and helps them save money. It is a great service, it’s so important. So many people go hungry and it shouldn’t happen in this country.”
In the end, it all goes back to a five year old girl who saw Americans help feed her family and community during the war. “I’ve seen hunger overseas and here. I’ve always wanted to help people,” Dollar explains. ”Life has always been good to me. So you pay back. And this has been an opportunity that I really enjoy, working with people.”
Call the Food Bank of East Alabama at 334-749-8844, for help with any food emergency.