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Students organize food drive for needy families

Nov. 7: On that early Saturday morning, about 150 Berea students, staff and faculty joined forces with the local community to volunteer at the Berea Food Bank.

The 17th Annual Hunger Hurts Food Drive

The shelves of the Food Bank were almost empty from the 948 visits needy families have made so far this year.

Student teams and some faculty and their families drove around the city in vans to collect food donations from residents. At the Food Bank, other students and staff sorted and stashed the haul – canned soup, sauce, pasta and all. View the photo gallery.

“We have 4,264 pounds of food so far,” announced Beverly Cook, college employee and one of the coordinators of the event, at one point. The volunteers clapped and cheered at their progress.

But within a few hours, they had collected, sorted and stored more than 8,000 pounds of non-perishable food. The Food Bank was now packed.

The Annual Hunger Hurts Food Drive was organized by student leaders at Berea’s Center for Excellence in Learning Through Service (CELTS) to provide emergency food assistance to local families.

The first Hunger Hurts Food Drive was organized 17 years ago by Students for Appalachia, a student organization at Berea College. The event has since grown into a philanthropic tradition. Students at CELTS have taken over the program, conducting a food drive every year.

Volunteers this year came from a diverse cross-section of the student body – the Student Government, Berea Ambassadors, Campus Activities Board, college chaplains and students at CELTS. Also joining was the youth group from Union Church, a non-denominational church with historic ties to Berea College.

“The Hunger Hurts Food Drive is always one of my favorite days of the year,” said Heather Schill, Coordinator of Student-Led Service Programs at CELTS, and one of the organizers of the Food Drive.

“People can see the real, tangible difference they can make.”

Schill’s works to groom student leaders in service by blending philanthropy and learning through student-led community service projects such as the Food Drive.

Schill said visits to the Food Bank are expected to reach 1,000 by the end of the year because local families are feeling the effects of the economic downturn.

Meanwhile, donations at the Food Bank continue to trickle in from students and Berea citizens. Students can drop their donations at Food Service and Hutchins Library, which accepts payment of library dues in non-perishable food.

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