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The Blue & Gray Press | August 22, 2019

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Students go into the streets to help community


Bracing Saturday’s oddly humid October weather, more than 100 University of Mary Washington students gave up their weekend slumber to team with various community service organizations through “Into the Streets,” an annual event sponsored by Community Outreach and Resources (COAR).

A group of UMW students prepared nearly 10,000 meals for the organization Stop Hunger Now.

The volunteers constructed rain barrels with Friends of the Rappahannock, packaged meals with Stop Hunger Now, built picnic tables with Habitat for Humanity, cooked meals at the Micah Respite Recovery house and spruced up the City Cemetery on William Street.

Christina Eggenberger, director of service at the Center for Honor, Leadership and Service, was pleased with the student turnout.

“We mobilized more volunteers this year than in years past, and we were able to make a measureable impact on the Fredericksburg community as well as globally,” she said.

Eggenberger and the rest of COAR staff provided volunteers with Into the Streets T-shirts, a Chick-fil-A breakfast and Vocelli’s pizza for lunch after their hard work.

Through their morning of service, volunteers were able to see the difference they could make over only a few hours of labor.

“It shows students ways they can get involved in Fredericksburg, and it shows our community that students want to be a part of the larger community,” Eggenberger said. “They see themselves as Fredericksburg residents, not just UMW students.”

Students working with Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR) on Saturday constructed 20 rain barrels, using power tools and listening to music on Ball Circle in the process.

“A lot of volunteers that I talked to said that it was a really great experience,” said Katie Graff, a member of COAR and senior chemistry and classical civilization major.

Students prepared a meal at Micah Ministries as part of Into the Streets.

UMW senior David Chambers, environmental educator at FOR, said the job of a rain barrel is to collect running water from roofs, storing the water for future use instead of letting it run off and eventually find its way to local streams and rivers.

This water runoff can lead to increased stream bank erosion, flooding and water pollution, according to the FOR website.

FOR sells the barrels for $75, a less expensive alternative to the barrels sold at retail stores. The barrels used also are economical since they would alternatively end up in a landfill.

Another group of about 60 students worked in Lee Hall with the Stop Hunger Now organization to ready some 10,000 meals to be sent around the world. Students spent the morning packaging the nutrient dense food packs of rice, dehydrated soy and dehydrated vegetables into cardboard boxes to be mailed.

Stop Hunger Now is an international food hunger relief organization that works with local partners to package food to be sent to about 65 different countries, according to Hannah Craddock, assistant program manager at the Richmond headquarters. Craddock led students through the process of packaging the meals throughout the morning.

Off campus, four students, including junior COAR council member, Sarah Arnold, worked at the Micah Ministries Respite Recovery house, a place for homeless individuals who need extra time for recovery after being discharged from the hospital.

The group prepared lunch for the residents, but gained much more than just a cooking lesson.

“I think that projects such as spending time at the respite house are an important aspect of community service, because it helps break down barriers,” Arnold said. “The valuable part of this project was the company, friendship and sense of community that we got a taste of for two hours. Just having a meaningful conversation can make a huge impact, for the students and the people at the respite house.”

Students were enthusiastic about UMWs involvement in Stop Hunger Now.

“I think UMWs involvement with Stop Hunger Now is great,” said senior sociology major Kimberly Slater, who sits on COAR council. “Being able to provide meals to individuals who need them is amazing, and I’m glad we could participate in such a noble cause.”