Food City supports volunteers

Betsi JamesOur Town Eats, Union

Each year Food City recognizes outstanding volunteerism among its associates through the Claude P. Varney Volunteer Recognition Program. Food City president and CEO Steven Smith created the program after attending a June 2002 White House meeting. He named it for Mr. Varney, a former president and board vice chair of Food City.

“Many of our associates volunteer their time and talents to numerous service organizations throughout the areas in which we operate, and we feel it’s needful to recognize the valuable services and support they provide,” said Smith.

Committees review associates’ volunteer activities and select store winners who compete within their district.

Twelve district winners are recognized with an award and a $250 contribution to their choice charity.  Two divisional winners are then chosen and honored with a plaque and a $750 charity contribution.  And finally, one overall winner is selected to receive the Claude P. Varney Humanitarian Award and be publicly recognized for their outstanding achievements in addition to a $1,250 charity contribution made on their behalf.

It’s awesome and overwhelming to see the volunteer work contributed by Food City associates. We are proud of every one.

Today we’re looking at the Maynardville store winner, Lisa Clapp, who volunteers with Samaritan’s Purse at Milan Baptist Church. The program was written up by the national Samaritan’s Purse magazine, from which this story is taken.

Since mid-March 2020, the Milan Baptist Church of Maynardville, Tennessee, has met for Sunday worship in the church parking lot. The service airs over an FM radio station in their area so their congregation and other townspeople can tune in from their cars. Yet even though they are unable to gather in their sanctuary, they are opening their building up for shoebox packing.

The church is filling their fellowship hall with various items members have collected throughout the year, and inviting individual families to sign up for a specific time to come and pack shoeboxes. Parents and their children will fill shoeboxes with the stuffed animals, school supplies, and bars of soap and washcloths provided as well as visit the letter-writing station and photo booth to be sure to include these personal elements the child will love. Volunteers at the church plan to disinfect each of these stations in between each family.

“When they walk through that door, I want them to focus on nothing but that precious child,” said Amie Winstead who has served as project leader for the church since it began partnering with Operation Christmas Child more than 11 years ago.

Last year, Milan Baptist aimed to pack 1,100 shoebox gifts and ended up filling 1,379. After praying about it, two people in the church independently felt God was leading them to pack 1,500 shoeboxes in 2020. Little did they realize what challenges would come. But Amie said, “God knew what 2020 was going to look like when He gave us that goal.”

Prayer has shaped every part of how they’re packing shoeboxes this year. “Everything we do with Operation Christmas Child, we meet it with prayer,” Amie said. The church intercedes for each shoebox recipient, their country, the volunteer Operation Christmas Child leaders in that nation, the local churches that distribute the boxes, and even logistics such as the journey the shoebox takes to the various drop-off locations before heading overseas.

Lisa Clapp is secretary of the women’s group at Milan Baptist and works concessions at the county’s Heritage Festival to raise money for the group. The women’s group makes shoe boxes for Samaritan’s purse with over 1,500 boxes shipped overseas. Clapp also works the kitchen at Vacation Bible School. The group distributes fruit baskets to seniors and treat bags for all members. It makes baskets of personal and essential items for the community’s sick and shut-ins.

New job for New Year: Food City continues to hire for full- or part-time jobs, entry-level or skilled positions. Interested candidates can apply online at or visit any Food City store to complete an application.

Betsi James is special events manager for Food City’s Knoxville and Chattanooga divisions.

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