Mary Sanders Doesn’t Know How to Retire


TIRELESS DEVOTION–At age 81, Mary Sanders continues to serve thousands in Corona, Calif.


by Brian Pickering – 

In 1986, Mary Sanders retired from the nursing profession, but not from society. The Salvation Army is thankful for her tireless devotion to thousands of others in Corona, Calif.

When the Army took over management of Corona’s Circle of Hope shelter in July 1997, it didn’t have to worry about the stability of the feeding program, as Sanders was well-versed in the workings of it. Now 81, she has coordinated this program for 13 years. She schedules volunteers from 21 local churches to prepare and serve three meals a day throughout the year. This includes recruiting volunteers and using individuals who need to work off community service time. She also oversees and assists in daily pickups of donated food from several stores, as well as calling to solicit donations. Mary keeps track of volunteer hours and number of meals served, and works every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the kitchen herself.

This sounds like a restaurant manager on payroll. Mary is a volunteer who enjoys helping others less fortunate. She was recently named “Citizen of the Week” by KNX Newsradio.

As vibrant as she is, Mary can’t do it all herself. Her husband Ray and friends Ray and Betty Schultz assist in picking up donations on a regular basis, while Betty has helped with a lot of the details for about ten years.

Sanders originally became involved with the feeding program when her church, First Baptist Church in Corona, operated and hosted God’s Kitchen. Before the opening of the Circle of Hope in 1986, people at city hall met with local churches and arranged for all homeless meals to be served from the shelter, to avoid having them scattered around town. When the manager became ill, Sanders offered to oversee the program.

Food donations are no problem. In fact, on numerous occasions the Circle of Hope has had so much perishable food that it has distributed some to other local needy organizations.

According to Mike Studebaker, director of Circle of Hope and Riverside Men’s Shelters, “Mary is very valuable to The Salvation Army. What she does is not easy. However, she does a masterful job.”

How long does Sanders plan on continuing this vital service in Corona?

“I will continue to be involved in this program as long as I’m blessed with good health. After all, I’m 81years old,” she said, laughing.

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