The University of Toledo (UT) is hosting its third annual meal drive for hurricane relief in the Caribbean on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 26-27. The university expects 800 community volunteers — students, employees and alumni — to help assemble meals in the Health Education Building on Main Campus.
After a year jam-packed with hurricanes that demolished many Caribbean islands and Puerto Rico, UT is starting off 2018 by aiding those who were affected most. Additionally, the students and community volunteers see the opportunity as a “win-win” for both the victims and themselves.
“We are all very excited about this big campus-wide event and are working very hard to make it a big success,” Nick Johnston, a student studying finance in the UT College of Business and Innovation, said in a statement.
It’s something bigger than ourselves. It’s a win-win: We are learning invaluable leadership skills while at the same time helping address global issues like world hunger.
“It really gives us a chance to impact people that we will never get to meet,” said Natalie Zerucha, a student studying management and marketing in the UT College of Business and Innovation, who also is a Klar Leadership Academy member. “That speaks volumes that we are willing to get together to give these families and villages the food and nutrients that they need to survive.”
This mobile pack drive is part of the Feed My Starving Children program, which is sponsored by the College of Business and Innovation and Klar Leadership Academy.
The Academy was founded in 2015 with support from Steven Klar, who graduated from UT’s business school in 1971, and now works as a builder and real estate developer in New York City. Klar and his family will work a shift packing nutritious rice and vegetable meals at the event.
Also attending the event and working a shift with his family is alumnus Ed Kinsey, a long-time UT benefactor who is helping sponsor the event through the Kinsey Family Foundation.
Zerucha, who also volunteered at last year’s drive making food packs for hurricane victims in Haiti, sees this as a great opportunity for students to learn valuable life skills.
“This event truly portrays UT’s commitment to improve the human condition by teaching students about servant leadership and getting involved with something bigger than themselves,” she said.
“Students can truly learn that there’s so much more out there in the world than what we actually see,” she continued. “Anything that you say or do can always make an impact on someone. This event teaches you what it is like to be humble and give back. You have time to reflect on how we have so many resources here that we might take for granted. The people that we are about to help feed are so grateful to get these nutritious packs. It teaches us how to come together and put aside our problems and worries and think of someone else who needs us.”
In last year’s drive, volunteers created a total of 34,776 meals, which fed 95 Haitian children for an entire year.
This year, UT raised over $30,000 for the drive, and expects to have more than 150,000 meals packaged for hurricane victims in the Caribbean.
“At The University of Toledo, we are all about developing student leaders who can fulfill the University’s mission of improving the human condition,” Dr. Clint Longenecker, Distinguished University Professor and director of the Center for Leadership and Organizational Excellence in the College of Business and Innovation, said in a statement. “This event is a perfect example of our students developing leadership, servant-leadership, planning and team-building skills while serving a greater purpose — to help create solutions to the problem of world hunger.”
In recent years, many universities, companies, and organizations have taken initiative to develop programs to tackle world hunger, environmental sustainability, and many other issues ailing the world. Communities’ willingness to step up and take action against social, environmental and political issues is encouraging for the progression of humanity.
“We plan to do this for years to come, and we are so thankful Feed My Starving Children exists and lets us work with them on their mission,” said Zerucha.