Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Panther Packs

by Maryann C., Panther Blogger
For the past three years, I have been a Gateway Seminar mentor. For those who don’t know, Gateway Seminar is a class that all incoming freshmen have to take during their first semester here at Ferrum College. My job as a mentor is to, well, be a mentor – help them in any way I can. During their Gateway class, the freshmen have a few big assignments to complete, and one of those assignments is to do a service project. This semester, the instructor I am working with for Gateway asked me to coordinate the service project. At first, I was very nervous to do this, but so far it is going great.

The service project I have planned involves working with Panther Packs. Panther Packs is a nonprofit organization that works with the local elementary school, Ferrum Elementary. Each week, Panther Packs makes packs full of food to give students to take home over the weekend. Essentially, the food is going to kids who, without the packs, may not get enough to eat while they are at home over the weekend. The kids’ families who are interested have to apply to receive the Panther Packs. This year, the program is feeding 51 kids each week.

Wal-Mart shopping group
This past week was my Gateway Class’s first experience in working with Panther Packs. Like I mentioned before, it was a great success. At the beginning of the week, I took a few of the students from the class into town to buy food to go into the packs. We had a set amount of money to spend, and we thought we would not be able to accomplish much. How wrong we were! With the amount of money we did have, we were able to get a lot of food that ended up being a great help to the Panther Packs Program.

Packing group
Later that same week, the professor of the Gateway class and I took some of the other students from the class to pack the Panther Packs. We met with a couple of ladies who help with packing the packs each week and they directed us so we would be able to successfully pack each pack. Each pack has to have a certain number of items in it, so it was good to have experienced hands assisting us in the packing. We got all 51 packs made in no time at all. We then delivered the packs to the elementary school where the students would get them on Friday afternoon to take them home for the weekend.

There were so many great things that came out of this whole experience. I was very pleased with myself for putting together a great service project for the Ferrum students and me to get involved in. I was also very excited about seeing the students happy to do the work. They knew they were making a difference for a few kids who live right here in our area, and I think that made them feel like they made a difference. I know that’s how I feel about it. Ferrum’s campus motto is “Not Self, But Others,” and I think this project resonated with that idea. I am pleased that the freshmen were able to get involved and help out the community. We are planning to do this again – hopefully multiple times through out the semester. I am even hoping to get some of the clubs I am involved in on board with this project as well. This was definitely the highlight of my week!

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