LUBBOCK, Texas - Every summer, Lubbock's Salvation Army experiences a decline in volunteers as school lets out and families leave on vacation.
Erica Hitt, the Salvation Army's social services manager, said they are already understaffed, and the lack of volunteers has made for a challenging summer. To make up for the shortage of helping hands, full-time staff like Hitt have had to work hard to pick up the slack.
"I think we're averaging 12 to 15 hour days. It's exhausting," she said. "It's almost like crisis mode. We're desperate."
Hitt said they are operating with a total of 21 staff members, but their everyday operations rely on volunteer work, especially when it comes to serving three meals a day in their dining hall.
"Breakfast, lunch and dinner," she said. "That's what we're looking for to get these meals out to these individuals."
Hitt said this past week, they have had to hire temporary staff to fill the spaces volunteers would usually fill, completing necessary tasks like cooking, cleaning and serving meals.
"But of course, we are a nonprofit, and that does affect our budget, so that's not what we want to do," she said. "We want to utilize volunteers, so we can put that money into other services and programs for the needy."
One of the temporary workers helping out the Salvation Army this week is Angie Johnson, who normally works as an ISS teacher with Lubbock ISD. She said she's enjoyed the work so much that she was sad when her week was up.
"I like being able to help give back," she said. "Everybody is not as fortunate as everybody has to have a place to lay their heads."
Johnson said she realized the value of service during her week at the Salvation Army.
"I never really realized how important volunteering was until I actually came into a system where you meet homeless people and you see where they have to come to get food," she said.
Hitt explained that while the dining hall is in need of the most help, there are multiple ways people who want to volunteer their time can help out the organization.
"We want to work around what their passion is, what they want to do," she said. "That could be from our empowerment center, to the kitchen, to the shelter, with our children. There's so many different programs that they can get involved and help volunteer with, and that's on a daily basis."
Hitt said anyone, whether it be individuals or groups, who would like to help volunteer at the Salvation Army can contact Kris Perez at 806-765-9434.