Some people might think that after working as a nurse for years and surviving a grueling battle against breast cancer, it might be time to slow down. Not Jerri Weed.

The 48-year-old Ahwatukee Foothills resident instead dove into volunteer work, since her physical limitations after her cancer forced her to leave nursing, she said. Now, Weed will be the Volunteer Coordinator of the Month in August for The Treasure Box, a food program in Arizona and California.

The Treasure Box partners with close to 400 faith-based and community-action organizations to provide boxes of food at a low price. Arizona contains 41 of the near 400 partners, said Koni Gould, the Phoenix-area community outreach representative for the program.

Weed has been spreading the word about The Treasure Box since her husband's church became a partner in February, she said.

"I'm the one who has been out there trying to get the fliers out and everything," Weed said. "I've had a tough time just trying to get the word out there."

The program has multiple boxes that can be purchased and picked up at the end of each month: One monthly box that changes, a kids box, a quick-and-healthy box and a meat box, according to The Treasure Box website. The boxes are stuffed with around 25 pounds of frozen food from manufacturers like Kraft Foods and Sara Lee.

Each box costs $30 and can feed a family of four for about a week, Weed said. The costs remain low because the program buys the surplus food from manufacturers at lower costs.

One thing many people don't understand about the program is that it is for everyone, Weed said.

"Nobody has to qualify for it," she said. "We're starting to see people who are unemployed, those with illness in the family and just some regular people who want to cut back on their budget."

Weed began to devote herself to The Treasure Box about a year after recovering from a fight against breast cancer. She was diagnosed in September 2008 and had to have surgery immediately, she said.

After the surgery, she went through radiation and four rounds of chemotherapy, finishing in January 2009, she said. She lost all of her long, blonde hair, but she stayed positive and didn't wear a wig.

"There is a reason why you want to be bald because you just sweat like crazy," she joked. "Now I have my short hair, and I love it. I'll never do long hair again."

Weed says she likes working with The Treasure Box because it helps her get back out in the community and give back to other people.

"I love people; these people want to give me hugs," she said. "Grant you, I have no hormones in my body, but I don't care; I'm out there and helping somebody."

Weed takes orders at the Lamb of God Lutheran Church on Chandler Boulevard near 3rd Street when it is convenient for the customers, she said. Three days before pick up day, she calls the buyers to remind them.

"I like the personal touch, and that's the reason why I make the special effort to call each and every body to remind them of the pick up day, to let them know that somebody cares," she said.

Weed said that not many seniors take part in this program, and she hopes to change that. She has left fliers at 36 businesses around Ahwatukee, and said she is willing to make home deliveries to senior citizens if they can't get out of the house.

For the month of June, Weed's church sold 60 boxes, which she said was an incredible feat. The month before there were only eight sold, and the highest number before June was 21 boxes, she said.

Her hard work and dedication has not only improved the program, it has been recognized. Koni Gould nominated Weed for August's Coordinator of the Month, and she was selected, Gould said.

"She works tirelessly to get the word out about The Treasure Box," Gould said. "She treats it as almost a full-time job."

All of the 400 organizations involved in the program have a coordinator, and only one other person has been nominated from Arizona in the past, Gould said.

June and July were both California coordinators, and Weed said she felt privileged that the next one will be from Phoenix.

Jolie McCullough is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a senior at Arizona State University.


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