Service learning has always been part of my life. Sometimes its obvious and in others it isnt. By that I mean some things I do and it can be considered an act of service unto others but to me it is normal. A lot of times I feel compelled to do something for people. As earlier mentioned on one of our discussion boards I had planned to volunteer this semester in a homeless shelter before taking this class. I had no idea this class required service learning and it was a perfect plan when I found out. I was happy this worked out for me.
My service learning location was the Maryland food bank located in Halethorpe Maryland about 15 minutes from the UMBC campus in Catonsville. I began on March 15 with an orientation. The Maryland food bank as we can tell by its name is a non-profit hunger relief organization serving as a leader fighting to end hunger. It provides and distributes free food to individuals and families in need across the Maryland area. According to feedingamerica.org 42 million people face hunger in the U.S today. This includes nearly 13 million children and more than 5 million seniors. So the Maryland food bank strives to reduce these numbers by fighting hunger.
According to their supervisor Thomas Higdon they distribute about 112000 meals per day and more than 41 million meals annually. They serve every country except for Montgomery and PG counties which are overseen by the govt. Volunteers are a vital part of the running of this whole organization. During orientation myself and other volunteers were taken into the warehouse which had a lot going on; packing of food in bags then into boxes sorting canned foods etc.
On my first day I worked on the belt which consisted of sorting canned foods of different categories. I specifically was responsible for sorting canned soups veggies and any ready-to-eat meals. I had to put them in boxes label them and put on appropriate section. Each box had to way 11.5 lbs. It was a fun experience for me because I was and still am happy to do it and because I know that I am making an impact on a lot of lives. Without volunteers organizations like this wont be able to get help to those in need and there will be a lot more people dying of hunger. I never or dont dislike anything about my current experience at the Maryland Food Bank. The employees are very helpful and polite. They are available for any questions or concerns volunteers have. They provided cold water on several occasions when it was a hot day. It boosts your mood to continue working even when one feels exhausted.
The Halethorpe location is one of the largest warehouses in Maryland. I was amazed at how important the work I was doing was. I will encourage my friends and family to volunteer in any way possible. A little time out of ones day wont hurt. I also believe it can be a blessing to oneself. Being a Christian I believe helping others especially those you dont know can be a blessing. Furthermore this experience has been an added advantage for me because Ive always thought of having my own organization in my country Cameroon. There are a lot of other organizations back home but theyre not stable.
I dont really consider this a project but if I were to do it again which Im certain to Ill take it seriously and even more so than I currently am. I was limited because of my school schedule especially because this is my last semester. I left some things unfinished a few times but I wasnt the only one. There was a day when there were just three volunteers working in the kitchen and there was a lot of work to be done. So I was asked to work in an area by myself. I tried to do the work as fast as possible so I could finish because I dreaded not finishing the work and knowing that its food I was disturbed by it because I hate not completing things. Next time Ill spend more time doing more.
All in all I believe service learning is very important and think it should be some sort of a recommendation for middle or high schools. Its important to take time out of our busy lives and be there for others. This can be a positive light our personal lives knowing were having some kind or good/positive impacts on them. It personally makes me happier at the end of the day. Its not a burden me like some people may think. Sometimes we think we are going through tough situations but when we get the opportunity to see others going through worse situations we need to count ourselves blessed and find ways to help directly or indirectly.