SARASOTA -- Within three hours of posting the online call to support the All Faiths Food Bank, 20 USF Sarasota-Manatee students had signed up to volunteer for four hours Saturday.
"That's just the kind of students we have," SAID Kati Hinds, coordinator of Student Organizations AND Leadership. "They're eager to give back."
So went the first day of a new USFSM program intended to unite student desires to engage the community with service organizations in need of volunteers.
In this case, All Faiths Food Bank distributes packaged and canned goods along with other necessary items to more than 50,000 people annually through local food pantries and direct contributions.
"The people who volunteer for us are at the very core of what we do here," All Faiths marketing director Laura Coyle said. "Without them, we couldn't feed our neighbors in need. Students are especially welcome. They are such an inspiration to others."
Hinds said students begin around 10 a.m. Saturday at All Faiths' 20,000-square-foot warehouse east of Interstate 75 in Sarasota County.
The group will meet at USF Sarasota-Manatee, 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, to ride a van to the warehouse to spend four hours stocking shelves and packing boxes with items destined for the food pantries.
Hinds said the USFSM volunteer program called "Service Saturday" will run every third Saturday over the remainder of the semester to help the homeless.
"Volunteerism and service learning are great ways for students to put into practice the knowledge and skills they gain in the classroom and through their co-curricular involvement," said Kimberly Mones, director of student engagement. "We are excited to match our students with community partners to provide service to our local community."
Barry Callahan, a 20-year-old business major, said seeing homeless men and women daily along U.S. 41 and in downtown Sarasota made him feel compelled to help.
"I think many of us here feel socially conscious and feel the need to help," said Callahan, the Student Senate president. "We look around and see what we have, that we're able to go to college, and feel fortunate to have what we have. It's almost like this is our duty to help."