By Kaleigh Cortez, Staff Writer-
Students participated in a day of service at the Chattanooga Area Food Bank in the first of two volunteer events through the Center for Career and Leadership Development on Tuesday, Nov. 10.
For three and a half hours, a total of fifteen volunteers packed food bags, sorted donations, distributed food and assisted staff members. The food bank estimated that 92 meals were arranged each hour that a volunteer worked. This preparation goes to feed the 20,000 families that the Chattanooga Area Food Bank accommodates each week.
David Grzesik, the director of leadership and development programs for the Center for Career and Leadership Development, expressed how critical reflection is after volunteering.
“You have to know the impact you’re making,” Grzesik said. “There’s a lot of good work and a lot of service that comes out of that.”
Grzesik brought the group together for a time of reflection following the service, to discuss how each participant felt after their time and to help “promote that spirit and understand why we’re there.” Grzesik also stated that they are heavily relying on students during this time as their senior volunteers must be extremely cautious during COVID-19.
Haley Howerton, a freshman from Knoxville, chose to volunteer at the food bank to satisfy her UT Promise community service obligation but acknowledged the impact for the residents.
“Volunteering is recognizing your privilege and that you can take your time and give it to other people,” Howerton said. “If you can give it, why wouldn’t you?”
Howerton offered her time at food banks in her hometown and continued this work in Chattanooga because “you never know when you’re going to be in a situation where you don’t know where your next meal is,” and she hopes someone would do the same work for her.
The Chattanooga Area Food Bank limited the number of volunteers allowed per shift as a result of the pandemic. The organization normally offers 40 volunteer spots, which were reduced to 25 for the health and safety of all people at the food bank.
To allow for more students to volunteer, there will be a second event Wednesday, Nov. 18 from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Center for Career and Leadership Development is planning to schedule two more community service sessions next semester with another organization.
The center will wait to determine the particular agency once they “know what the community voice will be” at that time, according to Grzesik. He wants to ensure ample time to plan an event if there is an immediate need from the community in the spring.
Until then, the Center for Career and Leadership Development is constantly updating their website with various agencies that need volunteers. Interested students can explore several opportunities here.