George Dunn was named after her grandfather. As the story goes, her father said he didn’t care if she was a boy or a girl, the name would be George no matter what. She’s repeated the family story more times than she can count over her lifetime and, for the record, she loves her name! She also loves working for the Salvation Army and working with clients.

“I started volunteering back in 2017, scheduling bell ringers for the Christmas season and answering phones in the office at the Towanda Salvation Army Service Center,” she explained. Dunn served as a bell ringer herself whenever she could not fill a spot or when someone canceled. Less than a week before ringing in the 2019 new year, she started full time as the center’s case worker. In that role, Dunn works one-on-one with clients in need of services.

“I help people who are getting evicted or have gotten shut-off notices from utility companies because they can’t pay their bills. I work with the local utility companies in Bradford and Sullivan counties to prevent the cut-offs. Prior to COVID-19, I helped about two families a week get food in emergency situations. That’s all changed now. The need for food is so great because of the financial impact of the pandemic. We’re giving out food in an organized weekly drive thru food pantry. Last week was our first one. We distributed about 6,000 meals to 200 families via boxes of frozen dinners and non-perishable foods. We’ll be doing two more this month, thanks to donations from our partners.”

This week’s distribution will be held today, starting at noon, at Towanda Elementary School at 420 State St. Volunteers wearing gloves and masks will load the food (while supplies last) into recipients’ vehicles when they drive up. Everyone will practice social distancing.

According to Dunn, her clients’ real-life stories are heartbreaking.

“Many of them have lost jobs but there are some who have yet to receive an unemployment check or a stimulus check. Others are scrounging for food or only eating once a day. Some tell me they don’t know whether to pay their bills or put food on their table,” she says with a sigh. “We even have business owners who fear they won’t financially recover from this set back. I feel awful for each one, but I’m so glad when we hand out the food, we know they can eat for a few more days and won’t go hungry. We even make sure our seniors, who can’t get out to pick up the food, get fed.”

The food distributions are possible because of a partnership the Salvation Army has with the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Towanda Elementary School, and several local businesses. To pre-register to receive food in the drive thru pantry, call George Dunn at (570) 265-5932 or email her at George.Dunn@use.salvationarmy.org. Those who don’t pre-register can get food while supplies last. After the final drive thru food pantry on Wednesday, June 10, at the same time and the same place, the Towanda Salvation Army Service Center will partner with two non-profit organizations, the Towanda Area Christian Outreach Food Pantry and the Christian Hunger Outreach Partners, to provide emergency food for area families in need.

To help the Salvation Army stay on the front lines providing much-needed resources to local communities during this critical health crisis, donate from a distance to the Salvation Army Virtual Food Pantry at salvatioarmypa.org. All donations for the Virtual Food Pantry will be directed to the zip code in which the donation originates.

Learn more about the Salvation Army Towanda, PA Service Center at www.facebook.com/towanda.salvationarmy.