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Ormond Beach Observer Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021 1 month ago

Standing O: Randy McDonald is wired to volunteer

Randy McDonald helps feed people in need through his work at the Jerry Doliner Food Bank.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

Randy Mcdonald's work at the Jewish Federation Jerry Doliner Food Bank always starts bright and early. 

The food bank feeds 24,000 people a year, and on the days when the volunteers are preparing to distribute groceries, McDonald and another volunteer drive to the Second Harvest Food Bank, where they go through boxes upon boxes of produce. They pick out the best ones for the families, pack them up in the van and return to the Jewish Federation of Volusia and Flagler Counties where volunteers are waiting to sort. 

It's all-day operation, McDonald said. 

“It takes everybody here to do what we do," he said. "You’ve got to be a caring person to volunteer here.”

About five ago, McDonald received a call for help from a friend. He told him that the Jerry Doliner Food Bank was short of people and that they desperately needed helping hands. McDonald agreed to help, and after that day, he just kept coming back. 

Why? The people. 

Beyond the numerous volunteers like him that dedicate their time and efforts to feeding the community, he meets people from all walks of life — ones you'd never expect to be in need, he said. Many times, the people will thank them individually for their help, telling them that if it wasn't for the food bank, they wouldn't have anything to eat the next day.

Helping them feels good, McDonald said. It's also sad.

“I don’t believe anybody should be hungry in a country like ours," he said.

Gloria Max, the Jewish Federation's executive director, receives letters from people they help. Sometimes, McDonald said, you can see the tear stains in the stationery. 

Marta Weisberg, one of our 2020 Standing O nominees, nominated Randy McDonald for the recognition. File photo

"He is a tremendous help to our pantry... He's just invaluable as a volunteer. He's there for anything that we need and gives very much of himself, and very much of his time."

Marta Weisberg, fellow Jewish Federation volunteer

McDonald is a longtime Ormond resident. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, he moved to Ormond with his parents when he was a child. He later moved away for 35 years, but has spent the last two decades in his Ormond Beach home.

Prior to volunteering with the Jewish Federation, McDonald owned a business where he manufactured shipping containers for caskets. 

He's also a fifth-degree black belt in taekwondo.

He remembers the day that journey began. A martial arts studio had opened in town, and McDonald, who had always wanted to practice martial arts as a child, called the studio for information. The instructor, Il Un Chung, asked him how old he was. 

McDonald was 37.

“He goes, ‘Oh, 37. Hurry, come now,'" McDonald recalled.

Randy McDonald spends about eight hours a day at the food bank. Photo by Jarleene Almenas

The two are still friends to this day, even after McDonald quit five years ago after 35 years of practicing martial arts. In fact, he and his nephew, a Holly Hill Police officer, used to run a martial arts program for the department's police athletic league. 

Another passion of his is music. He and his wife form a local music duo called "Memphis and Me!!" McDonald has written several songs in his lifetime, and said a couple have been published. 

He even wrote a jingle for the Jewish Federation. Local radio host Big John plays it on WELE 1380 from time to time. 

All three of his interests — volunteering, martial arts and music — meet when it comes to making others smile. And no matter what he's doing, he always feels like he can do better. 

Two of the people he looks up to are Max and her husband Ray, whose influence with the Jewish Federation have a made a massive impact in the community. 

“These guys are an inspiration," McDonald said. "I’m a senior citizen and I want to be like them when I grow up.”


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