Volunteers are the heart of Caring Hands. They are the boots-on-the-ground workers who interact with our neighbors, providing assistance, a kind word, and prayers of encouragement. Melinda and Marvin Vander Velden are two of these faithful volunteers who continually show Christ’s love as they serve.
What is your church home? Adventure Life Church in Altoona
What did you do for a living before you retired?
Melinda: I was an RN at Lutheran Hospital in Des Moines. Marvin: I worked at Communication Data Services in Des Moines.
How long have you been volunteering at Caring Hands?
Melinda: January 2008 Marvin: January 2001
What inspired you to serve at Caring Hands?
Melinda: Caring Hands started out as Matthew 25 Ministry at Adventure Life Church and I wanted to help out as they needed volunteers. Marvin: My spiritual gift is service. Once I retired from my full time job in 2014, I wanted to serve the pantry with more volunteer time.
What do you typically do when you volunteer?
Melinda: I am the volunteer coordinator for the monthly food distribution. I assign the volunteers and then I can fill in where ever needed. Marvin: On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, I drive a van to pick up food donations from various vendors. I also sort the donations to go back to the warehouse shelves, coolers, freezers, or client shelves.
Tell us about a time you were blessed by your work as a volunteer at Caring Hands.
Melinda: I am blessed every time our doors are open. I meet so many nice people that are in need, usually through no fault of their own. Most are so appreciative. I thank the Lord for all the great food that we get from many community sources that we can pass on to our neighbors in need.
Marvin: Recently as I was picking up food donations at Hy-Vee in Altoona when a woman came up to me and thanked me for serving as a volunteer. She also said that Caring Hands was a blessing to the community.
What do you wish people knew about Caring Hands?
Melinda: We are open 6 days a week to help provide supplemental food for families in need. We do not judge anyone - everyone in our community is welcome.
Marvin: All of our volunteers and staff truly care about the people we serve.
Tell us one fun fact about you.
Melinda: I love science fiction movies!
Marvin: I enjoy sports. In addition to attending my grandkids’ games, I umpired 275 girls softball games in 2021.