When Loreen Reynolds had to make a choice between her paying job and her volunteer work, her volunteerism won out.
“Two summers ago I had to make a choice,” said Reynolds. “ I chose to cut back on my paying job so I could do more volunteer work.”
Reynolds, who volunteers at Harlem United Methodist Church, the Harlem Women’s Club and Attic Treasures thrift store, was also operating a preschool in her home four days a week. She chose to reduce the preschool classes to two days a week.
At Attic Treasures, where Reynolds is treasurer, she keeps a sharp lookout for new items, which she sets aside for Christmas.
“We had 150 kids last year,” said Reynolds. “Each child gets one large present (costing about $30) and several smaller toys.”
In addition, each family gets clothing based on a list of their needs. Every year Reynolds and several other volunteers fan out on Black Friday to shop for bargains. They also keep an eye out for clearance sales throughout the year.
“We probably spent $6,000 last year for 150 kids,” said Reynolds.
“Last year we did Santa Claus for the first time,” said Reynolds. “We paid for that out of the Attic.”
Her children, Andrew, 30, and Zachery, 24, also help out.
“They’re good about volunteering,” said Reynolds. “Zack will help with the computers whenever we need it and Andrew and (his wife) Alex are there to help with the food program whenever we need them.”
Reynolds is co-chairwoman of the outreach committee at Harlem United Methodist Church, which is in charge of the annual Pumpkin Patch. She also helps organize a food pantry for the church.
“About every other month we do a food distribution for the community,” said Reynolds. “We buy the food from Golden Harvest and we have to bag it. We just put a sign out front. If you need food, come and get it.’’
“We also do the Saturday sack program with the money from the Pumpkin Patch,” adds Reynolds. “I bag them up and a friend of mine takes them to the school. We’ve got 12 families and 33 kids that we provide weekly lunches for.”
Given her work in the community, it is no surprise that the Harlem Women’s Club named her Citizen of the Year in 2012. As a club member, she helps out with the monthly bingo during the school year.
“Sometimes the money goes to the Women’s Club,” said Reynolds, “but most of the time it helps the Harlem Drama Club or goes to buy school supplies for the elementary kids. We also do things to raise money for Relay for Life.”
Reynolds, who has lived in Harlem for 23 years, gives credit to her husband, Steve.
“He works hard (at Kimberly Clark). Because of him I am able to do this.”