August's volunteer has compassion for those in need

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  • Debra Jensen-De Hart/Beloit Daily News August Volunteer of the Month Dalton Hansen sets out salt and pepper on a recent Wednesday in preparation for the noon lunch served at St. Paul Lutheran Church.

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    Dalton Hansen

  • Debra Jensen-De Hart/Beloit Daily News August Volunteer of the Month Dalton Hansen sets out salt and pepper on a recent Wednesday in preparation for the noon lunch served at St. Paul Lutheran Church.

  • 1

    Dalton Hansen

BELOIT - Wednesdays are special at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Beloit, especially for those in need of a free lunch.

And there to help make the day special is volunteer Dalton Hansen, 20, a Beloit Turner High School graduate.

Lunch is served about noon, but Dalton arrives early so he can work with the other volunteers and tend to the tasks at hand.

"About 10:30 is when I set up," he said.

Sometimes his job is to put napkins on plates as the tables are made ready for the guests. On this day, however, he is asked to set out small packets of salt and pepper. As he works, he also talks to a visitor about his volunteer experiences, and the parking lot starts filling up. People line up outside the lunch room. Dalton says a lot of people come to the church for the meal because things are not affordable for them.

"They can come here and get a bite to eat," he said.

Other volunteers at the church appreciate Dalton's willingness to help out and his personality.

"He brings a lot of cheer and happiness with him," said Carol Josh. "He's always willing to help out and he always comes in with a smile. He's just a wonderful man."

Cathy Oswald also looks forward to Dalton's arrival on Wednesdays.

"He has been a delight. He's cheerful, makes us laugh and will do what he can," she said.

Dalton began volunteering through the Adaptive Alliance Program, a program for adults with disabilities. Participants volunteer at St. Paul Church, Caritas, Meals On Wheels and other sites where there is a need.

The program started out in 2017 and was founded by Turner High School teachers Jeanette and Sam Wellnitz as an after-school program. Presently, the program runs from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

On Thursdays, Dalton heads over to the Caritas food pantry where people can get groceries and they can also get food for their pets if needed.

"At Caritas I bag 30 to 40 bags of dog food in small zip lock bags," Dalton said.

Of his work there he said: "It's very rewarding knowing we are helping people who can't afford to go out and buy a large bag of dog food."

When asked about Dalton's volunteerism at Caritas, Director Max Dodson said a smile came across his face immediately.

"He makes me smile. He helps assist the packaging of the dog food. This is an important aspect here. We always focus on the food for people but people also have pets," he said.

Having pets is an essential part of people having a well-rounded life, he said.

"I have such glowing comments about Dalton," Dodson said.

Dodson previously worked with adults with special needs., though he prefers to say "adults with alternative abilities."

"Dalton is contributing to the community to the best of his ability," he said.

Dalton also called a local grocery store to try to get extra donations for the food pantry and he tries to get people to donate clothing to Caritas.

He also previously volunteered for Meals On Wheels where he delivered meals to senior citizens at Scoville apartments. He also previously delivered lab samples to various departments at Beloit Health System.

His community service extends outside of his hometown. Dalton collects aluminum can tabs for the Ronald McDonald House.

"I take them to Madison. The aluminum tabs are worth money. It's kind of like giving money to them; they are doing some construction in Madison of an underground parking lot," he said.

He likes to give donations.

Dalton gave a donation for the Sun Prairie fireman who died when an explosion rocked the city's downtown area.

For his continued community service he has been named the August Volunteer of the Month.

Dalton also has a job where he works on Monday and Tuesday afternoons as a greeter at the Stateline Family YMCA in Beloit.

"My job as a greeter is to say hello to people and answer questions if they come to me," he said.

"I just like interacting with people," he said of his volunteer work and his job.

Dalton is the son of Kris and Monte Hansen of Beloit.

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