It’s time to look back on 2020! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2020 from the staff and volunteers of the Wildlife Center of Virginia.
In a year that turned routine upside down, there was one place I could count on seeing a smile, hearing encouraging words, and walk away with my heart (and car) full!
The Food Lion in Grottoes is just a couple of miles from my house. I’ve been picking up produce there for the Center’s patients for the last five years or so. The produce department is run by a spunky and lovely lady named Darlene, and she has the help of several others. Darlene has a soft spot for the Wildlife Center of Virginia, particularly our Black Bear patients. She asks, “How are all the critters doing? How about those baby bears?” just about every time that I see her. This time of year, I tell her about recent admissions – skinny, mangy bears that were likely separated from their mothers.
Determined to “fatten them up”, Darlene and the other wonderful workers at the Grottoes Food Lion load a cart to the top with banana boxes filled with fruits and vegetables. Some are past a due date for selling for human consumption, others might have some damage – maybe someone dropped an apple and it has a bruise, maybe berries got frozen in transit and turned to mush, perhaps a watermelon at the bottom of the pile cracked under the pressure and weight of all those melons on top of it. It isn’t uncommon for me to load more than twelve banana boxes into my car twice weekly. Over time, that comes to be thousands of dollars’ worth of produce donated every year!
During their daily pulls and inventorying, Darlene and her colleagues are always looking for ways to reduce waste and help their community. In addition to donating produce to the Wildlife Center, they save produce for the local food pantry, too!
As my responsibilities have changed at the Center over the last few years, it has always been a joy to pull up to the Center with a load of produce. I don’t have hands-on or even eyes-on patients and education animals every day, but bringing them food helps me to feel like I’m helping the temporary and permanent residents in a direct way.
As with everyone, I had some very low days in 2020, but the dedication and enthusiasm of the produce team at the Grottoes Food Lion was contagious. In their way, they helped me through by reminding me that, no matter how crazy the world seems, there are always people with good hearts out to help our native wildlife!
-- Lacy, Vice President of Administration