Office of Volunteerism sponsors drive to feed families for Thanksgiving

Student volunteers Mariana Cardenas (right) and Harley Buechler package supplies for the Office of Volunteerism. -News Editor/Matt Kass

This holiday season, the Office of Volunteerism is looking to help those less fortunate in the community. Through a program that started on Tuesday, Nov. 14, students can sponsor Thanksgiving meals for people who don’t have the money available for a holiday feast.

As part of the sponsorship process, students can sponsor a small (1-3 people), medium (4-5 people) or large (6-7 people) family. The students are asked to supply the non-perishable goods and a small gift card for the perishables which can be items like turkey, milk or butter.

Any donations made to the Office of Volunteerism will be collected and packaged in room 144 of the Student Center.

Shelly Klink, an administrative assistant in the office in charge of the program, says in the three years she’s been here, she’s seen an increase in the number of donations.

Supplies sit waiting to be packaged for the food drive. -News Editor/Matt Kass

“Prior to my coming on and doing it, I heard they didn’t get over ninety [packages],” Klink said. “The first year, we did 126, last year we did 156 and I’m shooting for at least the same if not more, but it remains to be seen.”

For Klink, this donation effort is personal and stems from her own struggle with putting food on the table.

“I can only tell you a lesson that I learned,” Klink said. “I like to pay things forward. And you never know when fate is going to deal you a hand that you become at the bottom or less fortunate. A few years ago I was unemployed and my husband was in a car accident. Literally, I was working part-time, no car, no health insurance, nothing.”

Klink went on to say that she found a job and insurance, but as her tough situation came through, she sometimes wondered if she was even going to be able to have regular groceries. She said that someone anonymously sent her a gift card for eighty dollars that allowed her to make ends meet. It helped her get through an extremely difficult time and now she looks to repay that gift forward many times over.

“Prior to this, we had wonderful jobs, we had everything,” she said. “And in the blink of an eye, you can lose it all. And this doesn’t mean just somebody who is poor or somebody who is rich. An illness, a car accident, a death can make you very vulnerable. You lose it all, and then somebody out of the charity or the goodness of their heart gives you something, so you have to pay it forward.”

While the current drive is just for Thanksgiving, Klink said the message is still the same: whether you volunteer for the holidays through this drive or go to a food pantry or Cathedral Kitchen or any other place to help out, it’s the giving of yourself and your time to another person that really matters.

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