On Friday, Oct. 3, Trinity took part in the annual United Way Days of Caring at the San Antonio Food Bank. The program is run out of the United Way volunteer center and was open for students, faculty and staff to register and participate.
“It gives members of the organization an opportunity to experience firsthand how United Way makes an impact in the community by allowing members of the community to volunteer at the San Antonio Food Bank and to see how those contributions are making a difference,” said Edwin Blanton, coordinator for community service and engagement.
Every year, United Way hosts the program in the fall when many companies and institutions, such as Trinity, are either in the middle of or getting ready for their United Way Giving campaign. This was Trinity’s seventh year to participate in the event on such a large scale. A campus-wide email was sent out a few weeks prior to the event.
“I don’t have class on Fridays, so when I got the email about the opportunity, it seemed silly not to volunteer. On the signup form, I saw that one of the possible “˜job’ options for the day was working in the garden and I definitely couldn’t refuse. I love being outside and working with my hands, and that’s exactly what we did,” said Helen Fiegenschue, a senior.
While many students and faculty members were not as fortunate as Fiegenschue to have the day off, a large number of Trinity staff members from various departments volunteered last Friday. Volunteers were given the opportunity to work either in the Food Bank’s garden or its warehouse.
“Some people like to volunteer inside and some people like to volunteer outside, so thankfully the Food Bank has the capacity to do both,” Blanton said. “They have a community garden right outside and they also have a huge warehouse where they need a lot of people sorting different donations and doing different activities.”
In the garden, the Food Bank has been growing a variety of vegetables, including broccoli, lettuce and cauliflower. Volunteers who chose to work outside spent the morning weeding the fields.
“The first thing that caught my attention was the invitation to participate in community gardening,” said Michael Hughes, librarian. “I’m a novice gardener with plenty of ambition and interest, but no real talent. That’s how I first got excited about it.”
Every hour of time given by a volunteer saves the Food Bank money in wages they would otherwise have to pay a hired worker. Instead, the Food Bank can invest the money in providing food for the hungry.
“There was a lot of crouching, wind and sun, but in a great way. It was really nice to see the progress as we moved across the field. Instant gratification at its finest,” Fiegenschue said.
By volunteering with the Food Bank, members of the Trinity community contributed to the goal of eliminating food insecurity in South Texas. The network of donors and volunteer laborers are essential to the Food Bank’s efforts.
“It’s very sophisticated inside. They have a kitchen with industrial assembly lines to make simple tasks happen at high speeds,” Hughes said. “It’s clear once you’re inside how they’re able to reach so many people every single day. It’s amazing.”
The San Antonio Food Bank needs volunteers to help with a variety of tasks every day. Those who wish to volunteer can visit safoodbank.org for more information.