COLUMBIA — Max and Sherry Wachter have been feeding people since 2009, and they were one of seven people or groups recognized Monday night for their volunteer work.

Their work at Cargill Cares Food Pantry in California, Missouri, earned them the Individual Volunteer of the Year Award at the 16th Annual Hero Awards.

The Hero Awards, sponsored by the Columbia Daily Tribune and other community organizations, recognized the volunteer work of dozens of other community members who, like the Wachters, dedicate their lives to serving others. 

Before joining Cargill Cares, Max and Sherry Wachter worked with a different food bank in 2009. Max Wachter said it was his wife who got the couple into volunteering.

Their organization now feeds around 1,000 people every month.

"We couldn't do it without our wonderful base of volunteers," Max Wachter said. 

Sherry Wachter said the couple is motivated to volunteer because of their devotion to God.

"It's what he calls us to do," Sherry Wachter said.

More than 40 people representing various nonprofit organizations were nominated for this year's awards, and the nonprofit group of each winner was awarded $400. The winners in each category were:

  • Outstanding Volunteer in Education/Literacy — Ellis Ingram, Battle High School
  • Outstanding Volunteer in Community Protection — Jack Wohlman, Columbia Police Department
  • Outstanding Volunteer in Health Care — Paula Nichols, CLAIM
  • Outstanding Volunteer in Arts & Humanities — Kenny Greene, North Village Arts District
  • Youth Volunteer of the Year — Bryce Cordry, Cedar Creek Therapeutic Riding Center
  • Group Volunteer of the Year — Kappa Kappa Gamma, Cedar Creek Therapeutic Riding Center
  • Individual Volunteer of the Year — Max and Sherry Wachter, Cargill Cares Food Pantry

Linda Hays, marketing manager of the Columbia Daily Tribune, said one of the goals of the event is to call attention to the work that volunteers and nonprofits do in Columbia.

"As a community newspaper, we know there's a lot of great stories," Hays said.

Publisher Rustan Burtan said the newspaper and its sponsors have given out more than $30,000 to nonprofit groups through the awards. 

Chloe Clement, a sophomore at MU and member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, said she learned compassion through her work at the therapeutic riding center. 

"I learned I take lot of things for granted that I probably shouldn't," Clement said.

Ellis Ingram, who works with black youth at Battle High School, said he learns something from every student he interacts with. 

"I want to inspire children and show them the great purposes for which they were created," Ingram said. 

Bryce Cordry had a personal connection to his nonprofit group. Cordry used to go to Cedar Creek Therapeutic Center and now volunteers there.

"It was part of my therapies when I was young," Cordry said. "I decided it was time for me to start giving back."

Supervising editor is Tyler Wornell.

  • Public Safety and Health reporter, Spring 2017. From Medellín, Colombia.

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