FORTVILLE — It was chilly enough for a heavy coat, hat and gloves. Some had donned their warmest clothes, though others shivered through it without winter gear.
The line of people waiting outside wound around the parking lot of Erlewein Mortuary, 124 E Staat St., Fortville, where the Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana mobile pantry was stationed, set up for volunteers to pass out free food to those in need.
More than 115 area families from Hancock and surrounding counties waited patiently to get their chance to pick up food during one of the final community distribution events of the fall.
Story continues below gallery
Patrons, who have filled out the proper paperwork through Gleaners, selected meat, canned and boxed goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, as long as supplies lasted.
On the back side of the truck, where the table was filled with packaged goods, a group of teens from New Palestine and other volunteers stood behind the table smiling, passing out food and helping those in need get nourishment.
The New Palestine teens belong to the youth group, Friends-4-Good, a gathering of friends who volunteer their time to do good for others in and around their community.
The group was founded five years ago by Bailey Young, when she was in elementary school. Young is now a freshman at New Palestine High School. Along with several of her friends, who’ve been in group from the get-go, the volunteers stocked the table with food, talked with people picking up items and tried to spread good cheer.
Sometimes the people in line like to interact with the volunteers and exchange in small talk, Young said, while other times they simply want to pick up their food and move on.
“You can understand that,” Young said.
Harry Utterback of Lawrence came to the mobile pantry to get some assistance. Without help from the food program and the volunteers, he’d be in trouble trying to make ends meet, he said.
He was happy to see the teens from Friends-4-Good out in the community, on a cold weekend morning. Learning others need help is a big life lesson, Utterback said.
Young and the other Friends-4-Good volunteers like helping others and trying to make lives better, they said.
Young doesn’t think too much about the good deeds they’ve done through the years; she and the other group members just want to do more, she said.
Friends-4-Good is organized by Young, with the help of Kelly Young, her mother, and volunteers like Michelle Long of New Palestine, whose daughter Hope Long has also been a member from the start.
“We really like the kids to be hands-on and get out in the community,” Kelly Young said.
Events like the food giveaway are important for young people to learn about and get involved with so they can better understand the needs of a community, officials said.
James Nolte, Vernon Township trustee, was helping oversee the Gleaners Food Bank event.
The support the mobile food pantry gets from volunteer groups like Friends-4-Good is needed to make the program a success.
“It keeps these kind of things going,” Nolte said.
Friends-4-Good members try to get into the community and do at least one event each month. They’ve been involved in several coat, hat and scarf giveaway events during the winter. They hold a Valentines for Veterans event in February, and they sing Christmas carols to seniors every season.