news-category: Christian Service

Gardner-Webb Students Help Pack Thanksgiving Food Boxes and Books for Families in Need

Photos by Shira Edwards / GWU Photo Staff

After Learning About Needs in the Community, University 111 Class Wanted to Volunteer Again

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Earlier in the semester, Gardner-Webb Instructor of Nursing Tara Hayes arranged for her University Life (UNIV 111) class to participate in a service-learning day at Feeding Kids/Reading Kids of Cleveland County, N.C. They sorted and separated books into age-appropriate categories and liked the idea of helping children and families in the community. Upon returning to campus, the 18 students asked Hayes when they could go and help again.

She was excited that her students experienced both service and learning while completing the activity, which is one of her goals in teaching the course. UNIV 111 is offered to all first-year students and promotes personal growth, wellness, and academic development.

Hayes observed, “It’s sometimes easier to drop off canned goods at a food pantry or to donate clothes than to actually learn about what’s going on in the community. We do have issues with food insecurity and food stability and our literacy levels need to be improved. She added, “There’s a lot that students can learn while they serve. This organization gives them an opportunity to do that.”

Last week, Hayes and the students returned to Feeding Kids/Reading Kids to help pack food boxes and books that will be distributed to 120 families before Thanksgiving. All the food and books are donated, and everything is accomplished by volunteers. There are no paid staff, and monetary donations are used to purchase food. 

Molly Brownlee, a volunteer with Feeding Kids and Reading Kids, showed the Gardner-Webb students what needed to be done. “I love that Gardner-Webb does so much with our community here in Cleveland County,” she praised. “It is a good way to involve our community with the students and the students with us, and I think it’s a great partnership in all aspects.”

Preston Teel, of Raleigh, and Ashton Brunson of Sumter, S.C., helped tape the boxes that would hold the food. Teel said he liked getting out into the community and doing things with his friends in the UNIV 111 class. “It makes all of us really happy that we are helping people,” he affirmed.

Brunson agreed, “It is always good to give back. Growing up my grandmother was a teacher and she would always bring home books. It benefits your education.”

Keira Yurashek from Frisco, Texas, and Ava Pezzimenti, of New York, sorted and portioned out the bulk food supplies. “To give to those in need is really important,” Yurashek asserted. “I’m learning that there is a lot more people who need help than we really realize.”

Pezzimenti added, “I think it’s nice they give food and books. It’s expanding little kids’ horizons. Obviously everyone needs food, but you also need an education.”

In addition to preparing the boxes that will be delivered to families, the GWU students packed large boxes of books that will be given away on Nov. 23 at 4 p.m. at the Community Table Thanksgiving Meals, served in six locations across the county. Anyone is welcome to come and eat and/or volunteer at one of the following locations:

  • Jefferson Park, Buffalo Street, Shelby.
  • Holly Oak Park, 809 Holly Oak Road, Shelby.
  • Mt. Calvary Community Life Center, 1205 Northside Drive, Shelby.
  • Hope Community Church, 1114 S. Lafayette St., Shelby.
  • First Baptist Lawndale, 129 Douglas St., Lawndale, N.C.
  • Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, 235 A.W. Black St., in Waco.

For more information about volunteering or donating, contact Feeding Kids.

To our readers: Feeding Kids of Cleveland County is a separate organization from The Little Bulldog Backpack Program, led by GWU Registrar Lou Ann Scates. Also a non-profit organization, The Little Bulldog Backpack Program provides food to children at two schools in the Boiling Springs area, Springmore Elementary and Boiling Springs Elementary. Healthy food is delivered in backpacks that are filled weekly by the various clubs and departments at Gardner-Webb. For more information regarding the Little Bulldog Backpack Program, contact Scates.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at Gardner-Webb.edu.

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