Continuing the battle against food insecurity in Lorain County, volunteers gathered in the College Center Commons on Jan. 22 to help feed the hungry during the AmeriCorps’ third annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Meal Packaging event.
With food bought from Outreach International, a non-profit charity organization that helps the impoverished, teams of volunteers were positioned into an “assembly line” to package meals that would be distributed around the community. The packaged meals were donated to the Elyria YWCA, Amvets Post 32, Oberlin Community Services, and Lorain County Community College’s Commodore Cupboard.
The event began at 10 a.m. and was scheduled to end at 3 p.m.; however, all of the meals, nearly 5000, were packaged sometime around noon and were ready to be shipped. “We had some amazing volunteers who were working quick, and we had a few students that got there in the beginning and stayed until the end, so they got in the groove and figured out some shortcuts,” said Carolyn Oatis, an AmeriCorps College Completion Coach who assisted in the planning of the event.
Oatis and other AmeriCorps coaches recruited many of the volunteers by advertising on campus through e-mails to faculty and staff. “We went to various faculty that have service requirements for their classes so they could tell their students about it,” Oatis said.
For donating an hour of their time to help package meals, the AmeriCorps coaches put together a raffle for the volunteers to receive prize coupons from businesses such as Chipotle, Atlas Cinema, and Great Clips. Also, volunteers were treated with food for themselves during the event. “Dunkin Donuts actually donated a lot to us. They gave us four dozen donuts, a dozen muffins, and a dozen or two bagels,” said Oatis.
Oatis and the rest of the AmeriCorps coaches are thankful for the money donated from Dr. Jonathan Dryden, the new Provost, and the Academic Learning Services on campus to buy the food.