The Camden Area Christian Food Pantry is thanking its volunteers for their work on the front lines and seeking to expand awareness of its services, as unemployment grows during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Food Pantry volunteers, wearing masks to protect themselves and others, are now taking food orders from community members who wait in their cars, filling the orders, and then bringing bags of groceries out for those who are waiting.

The Pantry is open Tuesdays from 8 to 11 a.m. and Thursdays from 4 to 6 p.m., and serves the communities of Camden, Rockport, Lincolnville, Appleton, Hope, Union, Washington and Searsmont,

On April 14, a number of people waited in vehicles in the circular driveway in front of the building. Volunteers went to the first in line, efficiently wrote down food orders and went inside the building, where other volunteers filled large paper bags with items. The same volunteer who took the order then wheeled out the weekly groceries on a cart and stepped back six feet or more, as the community member picked up their bags and placed them in their vehicle.

Following new safety measures, volunteers have continued to serve, sometimes suited up in head-to-foot raingear due to inclement weather, according to Board Vice President Debra Milliken.

During National Volunteer Week, April 19-25, the Food Pantry's Board of Directors is extending their sincerest appreciation to the many volunteers who give hours of their time to provide food to those in need in our local communities, Milliken said.

Volunteer opportunities at the pantry include not only serving the clients, but many behind the scenes jobs such as driving to pick up food, stocking shelves, keeping track of paperwork and various other jobs that keep things running efficiently, she said.

"Even in this time of trial, with mandates to shelter in place, our volunteers are on the front lines, clad in masks and rubber gloves, bringing food out to cars waiting in line in our parking lot," Milliken said. “We have had to adapt our normal procedures to maintain the safety of our volunteers and clients. But we have still been able to offer a lengthy list of choices which varies from week to week.”

With more and more people becoming unemployed, the Food Pantry is reaching out to those who may not be aware it exists, said Milliken. She said the Food Pantry is also working on being able to assist those who live on Islesboro, in addition to the eight communities it currently serves.

All are welcome to come once a week to obtain meat, bread, pastry, canned and boxed goods and fresh produce as it is available. A limited amount of personal care products are available.

Milliken would like everyone “to please remember to thank all your volunteers during this week national recognition of volunteers, or any time of year.”

“They may be wearing many "masks" of service,” she said.

The Food Pantry is located at 128 Mt. Battie St. in Camden, off of Washington St., and is open Tuesdays from 8 to 11 a.m. and Thursdays from 4 6 p.m.

For more information, call 236-9790, email camdenpantry@gmail.com or visit the website camdenareachristianfoodpantry.org.