Volunteer spotlight: Volunteer bug bites Iron Range women

Apr 24, 2023

The Salvation Army Northern Division is celebrating our volunteers throughout the month of April. Check our Facebook page and news feed regularly this month to read stories about the incredible people who donate their time to help The Salvation Army in Minnesota and North Dakota. Find volunteer opportunities near you.

Three women in Virginia, Minn., have grown to become some of The Salvation Army’s most valuable volunteers on the Iron Range. 

The women – sisters Delanie Giorgi and Lisa Erickson, and their sister-in-law Kathy Giorrgi  – volunteer every Tuesday at the Virginia Salvation Army, where they distribute food to local families. 

(Pictured, from left: Kathy Giorrgi, Delanie Giorrgi, Mark Vesel, Jim Labernik, Lisa Erickson.)

The volunteer bug first bit the women in late 2021 when they were approached by Mark Vesel, volunteer coordinator for the Virginia Salvation Army, who encouraged them to try one volunteer shift. He needed help weighing, organizing and distributing perishables donated by local grocery stores. 

“We didn’t want to commit to anything – we’re all retired and had other things going on,” Delanie recalled. “But once we did it, we thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is great.’ We never realized how important the work is or how much fun it would be.”

Nor did they realize how much they would love Mark and other volunteers at the Virginia Salvation Army (pictured). 

“Mark is a light,” Delanie said. “He is so positive, kind and patient. He is somebody we all can look at and strive to be more like.”

Lisa added: “Mark’s approach makes me want to give more.”

The women also admire fellow volunteer Jim Labernik, who picks up food donations from local grocery stores every day. 

“He and Mark work well together and make our time there easy and enjoyable,” Lisa said. “I can’t imagine not being part of their ‘family.’”

The women have gone on to help The Salvation Army in other ways as well. Lisa and Delanie now serve on the Virginia Salvation Army board of directors, while Kathy distributes food a second day of the week with her son, Willie, who lives with down syndrome. 

“I can’t even explain the joy I get from volunteering at The Salvation Army and doing it with my son,” Kathy said. “We love serving food to the people and talking to them when they come in to eat. It puts a smile on all our faces.”

In addition to serving food, all three women ring bells and help with toy distributions during the Christmas season.

Looking back, the women are thankful they said yes to volunteering when Mark asked them to.

“Now we work around other commitments in our lives to volunteer because we know how important it is,” Delanie said. “Everyone who knows me knows not to bother me on Tuesdays – my Tuesdays are for The Salvation Army.”

You, too, can experience the joy of serving others by volunteering for The Salvation Army. Find local opportunities and sign up

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