SARASOTA, Fla. (Aug. 28, 2015) – It didn’t take long for the wave of responses to pour in once the request for volunteers was made.
Within three hours of posting the online call to support the All Faiths Food Bank, 20 USF Sarasota-Manatee students had signed up, offering to volunteer for four hours on Saturday.
“That’s just the kind of students we have,” Kati Hinds, coordinator of Student Organizations & Leadership, explained. “They’re eager to give back.”
So went the first day of a new USFSM program intended to unite students’ desires to engage their community with service organizations that can use and welcome volunteer help.
In this case, All Faiths Food Bank distributes packaged and canned goods along with other necessary items to more than 50,000 people annually through local food pantries and direct contributions.
“The people who volunteer for us are at the very core of what we do here,” All Faiths Marketing Director Laura Coyle said. “Without them, we couldn’t feed our neighbors in need. Students are especially welcome. They are such an inspiration to others.”
Hinds said the 20 students are set to kick off their volunteer duties around 10 a.m. Saturday at All Faiths’ 20,000 square-foot warehouse east of Interstate 75 in Sarasota County.
The group will meet at USF Sarasota-Manatee, 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, to ride a van to the warehouse to spend four hours stocking shelves and packing boxes with items destined for the food pantries.
Hinds said the USFSM volunteer program, called “Service Saturday,” will run every third Saturday over the remainder of the semester. This semester, with the program aiming to help the homeless, the students could find themselves engaging with several organizations across Tampa Bay, from food banks to shelters, Hinds said.
“Volunteerism and service learning are great ways for students to put into practice the knowledge and skills they gain in the classroom and through their co-curricular involvement,” said Kimberly Mones, director of Student Engagement. “We are excited to match our students with community partners to provide service to our local community.”
Barry Callahan, a 20-year-old business major, was among those who answered the call to volunteer. Seeing homeless men and women daily along U.S. 41 and in downtown Sarasota, the North Port native said he felt compelled to help in some way.
“I think many of us here feel socially conscious and feel the need to help,” said Callahan, who also serves as Student Senate president. “We look around and see what we have, that we’re able to go to college, and feel fortunate to have what we have. It’s almost like it is our duty to help.”