JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - You may not worry a bit about where your next meal is coming from.
But, seniors, or older adults in Arkansas, face real obstacles when it comes to getting nutritious food they need.
Some can’t drive; others can’t afford healthy food.
This month’s Gr8 Acts of Kindness winner works tirelessly to feed these needs.
In fact, you can find Don Dust on the second Wednesday of every month in his vehicle, pulling a trailer loaded down with commodities from the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas to the Senior Wellness Center in Pocahontas.
“We get a hundred and five boxes, plus cheese,” Betty Poe, site director of the BRAD Center in Pocahontas said.
Without all this, many seniors would go hungry. In fact, just a few years back, there were dire circumstances.
“And at that time, Arkansas was number one in the United States for food insecurity for seniors,” Melissa Prater, director of purchased services for the East Arkansas Area Agency on Aging.
That’s when food pantries were started at all senior centers in Northeast Arkansas—thanks to a Walmart Foundation grant.
Since then, volunteer Don Dust has been a busy man.
“When I go to Walnut Ridge, I pick up 38 boxes for them down there,” Dust said.
He not only picks up food for Randolph County, but Walnut Ridge and Corning… in a trailer he bought himself. In fact, this is the third trailer he’s bought.
“You can see people who comes in this building when they hand out food, which is on the third Wednesday of every month, and they rely on me to pick this stuff up. You see the people that comes in here that does need it. Now I mean needs it,” Dust said.
Dust is so busy working to feed those needs… well, he barely noticed us gathering for a big surprise.
“Surprise,” I yell, as a group of First Community Bank representatives, friends and senior center friends gather around Dust.
“I’m looking for a volunteer extraordinaire named Don Dust?” I asked. He looks down for just a bit. He shakes his head as if to say “no.” “Yes, that’s me,” he said with a grin.
“I’m Diana Davis with KAIT,” I said.
“I watch you every night,” Dust explains.
“Aww. Well, thank you,” I respond. “Well, thank you so much.”
“We want to let you know that for all these things that you do in the community and giving of your time, you’re the next winner in the Gr8 Acts of Kindness!
Applause erupts through the middle of the room at the Senior Wellness Center.
“Thank you,” Dust said. “Thank you y’all.”
“Three hundred, four hundred, five, six, seven, eight. Four hundred eight dollars!” I counted brand new bills into his hand.
“Thank you for everything that you do,” Kembralyn Redman, business development officer for First Community Bank, said.
This retired former maintenance worker from the Pocahontas School District, served in the army and National Guard and just believes serving others is what you do.. and especially when his own mother is part of that senior group.
“He does anything you ask him to,” Poe said. “He has helped us package up the meals that we deliver. He has helped go get the food from the kitchen.”
“There’s never any doubt, rain, snow or sleet, he’s like the mailman,” Prater said. “He’s going to deliver when he’s supposed to be there.”
“It tells me that they care and I care about them,” Dust said. “I’ve worked for them for four and a half years. It meant a lot. They are good people and I love working with them.”
“He’s amazing!” Prater said.
“He’s really an exceptional person,” Poe said.
If you know someone—exceptional—like Don Dust, nominate them for the Gr8 Acts of Kindness. Take time to recognize them. Go to our website and fill out the form.