DAVENPORT, Iowa — All over our area, there are people who are not just doing good - but "Multiplying Good."
Every year, we honor them with the Jefferson Awards - a nationwide foundation that celebrates amazing acts of public service. 2022 is WQAD News 8's 8th season of being a Jefferson Awards Media Partner, sponsored locally by Genesis Health System and Tyson Foods.
From Feb. 1 through March 22, News 8's Angie Sharp is introducing you to this year's nominees. To see all of our Jefferson Awards Nominees, past and present, click here.
2022 Jefferson Awards: Elizabeth VanCamp
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Elizabeth VanCamp was doing what most of us were doing - working from home. As she heard about people losing their jobs and paychecks, she heard from a co-worker about their hometown starting a community fridge.
After looking into it, she decided to start the first one in the Quad Cities.
"The idea behind all the community fridges across the United States is just that it's kind of come when you need it and take what you need," she explained. "Whatever's in the fridge is yours to take. We don't police who comes. We don't police how much people take. We ask people to be considerate because we're trying to feed a whole community, but again, you just come and if you need a lot that day, you take a lot that day."
The Minnie Fridge is located at the Roosevelt Community Center, 1220 Minnie Avenue in Davenport, Iowa. With the help of Alderman Rick Dunn, the pair found a fridge and started filling it right before Christmas in December 2020.
"It was like a train that was off the tracks," VanCamp recalled. "We thought it would be a really slow process, but it wasn't. We got support from so many people right away. We got community support right away. We got donations right away to help pay for the fridge and for just the food to stock it on day one."
The community fridge allows people to access fresh fruit, vegetables, dairy products, meat, and more - items that can be expensive, especially as inflation rises.
"It gives people such a sense of hope," said VanCamp. "It did for me when we started it, for sure. Then, I saw the hope on other people's faces, people who are bringing food, people who are accessing it to get food. There's this thing that exists and it doesn't ask for anything from you - other than to just take what you need so it gives people hope, and then that trickles down to other areas of their life. It also just makes such an impact on people who are experiencing chronic hunger because we know that hunger affects so many aspects of people's lives and so just knowing they've got this resource here, that's here every day, it trickles down. It doesn't just affect them. It affects their kids, it affects their other relationships, it affects how they perform at work. So, I think it's this little source of hope that just impacts so many areas of people's lives."
VanCamp expects The Minnie Fridge to stay open and expand, even once the pandemic is over. She added that there's other people in the Quad Cities who are now inspired to start their own community fridges, too. VanCamp is "Multiplying Good" through her selfless acts of public service - which is why WQAD is honored to recognize her as one of our 2022 Jefferson Awards Nominees.
To see her entire interview with News 8's Angie Sharp, watch the video below.
Watch more stories about the Jefferson Awards on News 8's YouTube channel