By Sondra Rodriguez, Student Reporter
The Service Action Leadership Team (SALT) and the Volunteer Service Learning Center are preparing for the annual Thanksgiving Meal Project, an event where students and faculty donate money and time to provide families in Abilene with a Thanksgiving dinner.
Thanksgiving meals are provided by the food bank of Abilene, collected on campus and distributed to families in need. Taylor Elementary identifies these families.
“We ask them to identify families that they know are in need of meals,” said Nancy Coburn, director of Volunteer and Service-Learning Center. “Every year, they give us a list of families who have either asked for help, or that they know need help. Funds are distributed accordingly, and any extra meals are sent to “211- A Call For Help. If we get enough money for 70 meals, and they only give us 50 names, we’ll call 211 and tell them we’ve got 20 more. We’ll get the addresses and deliver those as well,” Coburn said.
Meals cost $55 and are made to feed a family of five to eight.
“Even if it’s a small family, they’ll have enough food to get them through the week,” she said.
Once the meals are retrieved from the food bank, they are delivered to the families. This is done by student volunteers on the Monday of Thanksgiving week.
“You’re pretty much driving your car around with a map and delivering food wherever we need you to go,” said Courtney Holden, sophomore history major from Belton and co-chair member of SALT.
Volunteers and donations are still needed by the committee to make this event possible.
“There is a lot of stress in getting people to donate. We try to reach people through residence halls, advertisements on campus, signs and announcements in Chapel and mass e-mails telling about it,” Holden said. “Getting donations is the biggest obstacle, finding enough volunteers is the second. Committee members end up begging their friends to help out.”
In past years, offices on campus and U100 classes have committed to sponsoring families, and students have gone door-to-door collecting spare change in residence halls.
“U100 classes have been one of the primary targets. We try to encourage it as much as possible, and we end up with about 60 to 70 percent of U100 classes participating,” Coburn said.
Anyone interested in volunteering can come to the VSLC office, located in the Bean Sprout, and sign up or bring a donation.
“It’s two hours of your time and a little pocket change,” Holden said. Any help or amount is appreciated, and each dollar will go toward another meal for a family.