The third annual United Way Volunteer Expo was held on Valentine’s Day this year. Muscatine area residents were able to show their love to local area nonprofits by learning about the various volunteer opportunities that are available.

Ten area agencies had representatives on hand, ready to explain what they have to offer. In addition to facilitating volunteers for several area agencies, United Way is looking for volunteers for two programs.

The walking school bus is a program that will take place at Colorado, McKinley, and Madison Schools.  The concept behind the program is to get children up and moving in a fun way while still delivering them to school on time.

Participants will meet with volunteers at a designated “bus stop.” Once the children have arrived, the “bus” will walk to school under the supervision of the adult volunteers. Volunteers will undergo a background check before working with the children.

In addition to the walking school bus, United Way is taking volunteers for the summer feeding program.  Though locations for this summer have not been finalized at this time, volunteers can still sign up.

The Muscatine Food Pantry is located at 315 Iowa Avenue. The pantry is filled and funded by donations and run by volunteers. The food pantry saw 19,000 individuals in 2016 representing 52,000 family members. The pantry is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:00 to 10:30 a.m. On average, between 130-140 people are served each time the pantry is open.

In addition to traditional grocery and hygiene items, the pantry accepts plastic grocery sacks. An estimated 1,000 grocery sacks are used each week to send clients home with food for their families. Bill Dyar with the Muscatine food pantry says he is commonly asked what items are needed. Dyar says he answers the same way every time: “Whatever you last bought when you went grocery shopping is what we have a need for. Whatever your family likes to eat is what some other family would like to eat as well.”

Other agencies represented at the Expo included the Girl Scouts, the Red Cross, Family Resources, Rebuilding Together Muscatine County, Youth Sports Foundation, the Muscatine YMCA, Pregnancy Resources, and Flickinger Learning Center.