BY RISHON SEABORN
Salisbury University’s Volunteer Center hosted their first meal packing event Friday.
Career Services’ Volunteer Center partnered up with the Wicomico County Project to come up with the idea of delivering these meals to approximately 472 students of East Salisbury Elementary School.
In preparation for 500 meals, the Maryland Food Bank donated a portion of the food and the Volunteer Center contributed to the selection as well.
The SU’s Wicomico Room was set up with multiple stations of food items and water for SU students to fill a bag with. Each bag contained a label with a student’s name, grade and homeroom teacher.
Along with each bagged meal the elementary students would receive a personal hand-written letter from a Salisbury student. Some words of encouragement and best wishes were shared from one student to another as the new school year begins.
This event consisted of one of the freshmen “Welcome Week” activities to establish support and provide encouragement to the students as a new class is ushered in.
Samantha Beck, Volunteer Center Graduate Assistant, explained the impact that this can have on the Salisbury community. She mentioned the importance of the university representing and reaching out to community surrounding campus.
The SU’s Wicomico Room was set up with multiple stations of food items and water for SU students to fill a bag with. Each bag contained a label with a student’s name, grade and homeroom teacher. Rishon Seaborn photo.
“Eighty-seven percent of the children at [East Salisbury Elementary] that we’re helping are at, below, or right around the poverty line,” Beck said.
The idea of introducing students to Salisbury stretches past the campus. The genuine issues within the town are equally as important to acknowledge and also can be improved by bridging the gap between campus and community.
“We want to show that we can help the kids right in our area,” Beck said.
The students of East Salisbury Elementary are provided with two meals a day: breakfast and lunch. For many students these are the guaranteed meals that they can rely on, and due to the Labor Day weekend the program wanted to extend the supply to last the students for the weekend.
Carrie Taylor, Social Work Department employee and Wicomico County Board of Education intern, works first hand with the families and students of Wicomico County.
The Board of Education (BOE) provides a program that allows volunteer services to help strengthen the students’ character and conduct.
The percentage of at-risk youth is relatively high in the county and they are the main target interest of the program.
“East Salisbury School is one of the lower income areas that really do need the food, but we also need people to go into the schools and help out as well,” said Taylor.
The BOE also sponsors another project, The Wicomico Mentoring Project, which is separate but aims for the same outreach and impact throughout the community.
“A lot of times parents are double working with multiple jobs trying to support the family” Taylor said. “Sometimes there isn’t time to spend with homework so this is what is for.”
For more information or volunteer opportunities visit the Wicomico County’s Board of Education website at http://www.wcboe.org.