BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - She walks rapidly, and you might be forced to run to keep up with her.
Linda Dawkins and her husband, McCleish, are at Calandro's Grocery on Government St. to make their regular Friday round. They are loading box after box of products near, but not past their expiration dates into the back of their gray pickup truck.
Dawkins is retired after a long career as a state worker. As she continues to lift boxes into their truck, she says, "I've been on both sides of the volunteer program. I've been a volunteer and I've depended on volunteers. We can't do it without volunteers! It's just fun, and you meet a lot of really good people. You meet a lot of generous people."
Her husband says they load the truck for a cross-town trip to a local soup kitchen. "We've been in rainstorms, a snow flurry, ya' know, just do what you have to do," he says, smiling.
"This happens three times a week at Calandro's. We're only doing Friday, but you have a Monday, Wednesday, Friday pickup here," Linda explains. So the pile of boxes shows you Calandro's generosity. Linda is careful to find the box with the meat in it so that she can find it quickly to place in a refrigerator once they reach St. Vincent de Paul.
Some of the boxes are heavy enough to require fresh arms and Calandro's employee, Aaron, helps out. As Linda and McCleish continue to struggle with packages, Aaron handles it all easily. When Linda is not doing this volunteer job, she could be helping with a Rural Life Museum special event. She helps Baton Rouge Green plant trees and the LSU Friends of the Library Annual Book Bazaar. She didn't do the ice bucket challenge, but she's helped the ALS Association for years. For Inner Wheel of Rotary's Trash and Treasure sale, Linda donates 800 hours per year of her time, love, and devotion.
Unpacking at St. Vincent de Paul soup kitchen, another Friday delivery is done. "A lot of people say, 'Oh well, thank you so much for coming.' I said, 'Ya know, if I didn't have fun, I wouldn't come back.' So always make sure it's something you enjoy."
The Power of 9 awards are sponsored by Louisiana Honda Dealers, Capital Area United Way Volunteer Center, and WAFB.