More than 25 volunteers made 120 sandwiches and gift bags for local residents at Deptford Township Monongahela Middle School on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Members of the school’s student council and co-advisors spent the morning preparing lunches for the homeless in Gloucester County. Celebrated each year on the third Monday in January as “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage volunteerism.
“MLK Day is supposed to be a service, not a day off,” said co-advisor and seventh grade English teacher Jenna Reed. “It shows them that it really doesn’t take much to help people that are in need.
“You don’t have to be a millionaire or a celebrity or an Instagram, Snapchat star to make a little bit of a difference.”
After searching over several years for a local organization that would keep its donations within the community, the group decided to donate to the Gloucester County Center for Family Services, a Camden-based nonprofit dedicated to children and families who face poverty, violence, trauma and addiction.
“I could go to Camden, I could go to Philadelphia, but I wanted to try to keep things close to our community,” said co-advisor and eighth grade science teacher Gregory Schofield. “It’s a day to remember somebody who did wonderful things.
“To actually have the students see that giving back is something that’s very important.”
The Camden nonprofit used the school’s donation for multiple causes within the county, including domestic violence and homelessness.
“I like knowing that it went to people in need that need these lunches,” said student council member and seventh grader Ava Gonzalez. “It just felt good that it was going to them.”
Along with sandwiches, students also made goodie bags with candy, water and a bag of chips to make a full meal. Some students also wrote inspirational quotes and drew pictures on the bags to lift the recipients’ spirits.
The group’s intent is to continue the initiative in the future, allowing more students to participate instead of just council members. For the students who participated, the opportunity is one that gave them joy.
“It felt good to know that we made a change in our community,” said seventh grader Liam Masusock.