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Couple involves MFB in their wedding

Every volunteer has a story about why they serve at Midwest Food Bank. For Duane and Cheryl Whitlow, their story includes a history of volunteerism and a unique love story.

Prior to meeting each other and serving at MFB, both Duane and Cheryl believed in service to the community. Duane coached and mentored individuals with personal finance matters and Cheryl volunteered with organized events through her employment at State Farm. Little did they know that they would eventually get married and MFB would be a big influence in their wedding day.

In 2018, Duane had an opportunity to tour MFB with founder David Kieser and learn more about the mission and food relief process. Duane began volunteering on distribution days and invited Cheryl to come along.

"Cheryl retired from State Farm in early 2021 and without hesitation signed up to be a core volunteer, serving at the front desk during the non-distribution weeks and loading carts during distribution. Duane continues to volunteer each month for distribution and looks forward to retirement days when he can give more of his time.

The Scripture selected for their wedding aligns with the MFB mission and their pastor talked about their love for each other and their love of service to MFB. "So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each look not only to his interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:1-4 ESV.

The couple decided they wanted to share their passion for the MFB mission with their wedding guests. They were given special permission to use the MFB facility.

"We are focused on food relief efforts and special events like these are typically not possible for our staff and facility," says Tara Ingham, Executive Director for MFB Normal. "But Cheryl and Duane's passion for the mission, extensive service to MFB, and need for a venue, aligned perfectly as an event that drew others in to participate with MFB in a special way."

They even had a surprise plan to bless MFB along the way. In lieu of gifts, they asked their guests to make donations to MFB. Before the ceremony, Duane spent time sharing the MFB mission and programs with guests. The day concluded with a tour of the warehouse. 

"Our family and friends knew of our volunteer efforts and while we can explain the size and scope of what MFB does, actually seeing the facility and learning about it was awesome," says Cheryl. "They could easily see the scope of the great work happening here."

The couple tries to volunteer together when possible. As a retiree, Cheryl gets to volunteer more often than Duane does. Prior to distribution weeks, they try to sync up a day they can volunteer at the same time.

"Knowing that our combined efforts, along with those of other volunteers, is going to bless others with food for many weeks is such a great feeling," says Duane.

Their love story and wedding day may be a bit unique, but Duane and Cheryl are great examples of the thousands of volunteers that walk through the doors at Midwest Food Bank.

Over 7,700 volunteers served at MFB Normal in 2021, giving almost 80,000 hours of service.  Click here to learn more about volunteering at MFB. Who knows? You may fall in love.

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