The holidays are right around the corner which means volunteers are gearing up to help people in need across the county. The Office of Volunteerism, Community Engagement and Commuter Services is beginning to advertise for their “Adopt a Family for Thanksgiving” event.
“We adopt small, medium, and large size families from the Boys and Girls Club of Gloucester County, Division of Child Protection and Permanency,” said Rochelle Klink, organizer of this program since 2016. “…We do the S.H.O.P on campus, we do volunteers of America, family shelters, and we also do Glassboro Samaritan food bank and other churches that have food banks.”
The Office of Volunteerism, Community Engagement and Commuter Services works with many different organizations to put together a list of the families in need of a box of food for Thanksgiving.
“The Boys and Girls Club as well as the Division of Child Protection and Permanency will request boxes for each location,” Klink said. “We end up, just with those boxes, 120 boxes. Anything over will go to Volunteers of America and S.H.O.P.”
Anyone can email Klink at email@example.com to be given a family. They can pick any size family, Even if they aren’t sure the size they want, Klink will place them with the best fit. Once they receive a family ID number, Klink will send you a suggested shopping list and a gift card for perishable food items.
“It can be individual, like an individual student, it could be a club, an organization, a Greek, a department…it could be anyone,” Klink said.
Students and faculty do not have to pick a specific family in order to participate. Klink also takes cans and other non-perishable food items to fill boxes that were left incomplete.
“The one thing we can not do is we don’t have a freezer for frozen turkeys or anything like that,” Klink said.
People can bring in turkeys and other perishable food items in on Nov. 14 and then the donations will be brought directly to the food bank because of the lack of storage room at the office.
“Everybody has been so generous…last year we had 136 families and then some,” Klink said. “[Then] we had a lot of canned goods that went to all different places.”
Graduate coordinator Naveen Khan runs many different events put together by the Office of Volunteerism, Community Engagement and Commuter Services.
“I wasn’t really involved in the office as an undergrad, but I really love it because we do such meaningful work and it doesn’t feel like a job to me,” Khan said.
Khan works with students to put together goody bags for Ronald McDonald House and takes students to the kindergarten class at James Hall for Little Owls.
“When we take things the the Ronald McDonald House its like a snack pack with juice, cookies, crackers, because when you’re at the hospital for hours you just need something to sustain you or your kids,” Khan said. “[Last] time we went we put them on a shelf where the families knew to come get them…when we went back two weeks later they were all gone.”
For some of the volunteers their work hits closer home.
“In 2013 my husband was in a car accident and his job was owning his own business so he was out of commission,” Klink said. “I had lost my job and was only working part time, so you didn’t know where the money was coming in. Several months go by and literally someone out of the clear-blue sky anonymously gave me a gift card for Shoprite for $80. And then you turn around and go help somebody else.”
There are always opportunities for students and faculty to get involved on campus. The Office of Volunteerism, Community Engagement and Commuter Services hopes students will participate and give back.
“You never know when you are going to need it, we don’t think that, we think, ‘hey I’ve got my job, I’ve got this and that’ we don’t think that we will be in need, but you never know,” Klink said.
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