by Ashley LaFountain
2013 Legacy Scholar, University of Toledo
As part of Elks Scholar Service Days, I served in an event my community holds annually around Thanksgiving, “Box Out Hunger.” While I was the sole Elks scholar participating from the University of Toledo, it was truly amazing to see the impact I, along with nearly 400 other volunteers, were able to make in just a few hours.
“Box Out Hunger” is a service event put on by The Cherry Street Mission in Toledo, Ohio that aims to ensure that many Toledo-area residents can have a Thanksgiving meal.
My group was assigned to a warehouse area of the mission and were each given our specific tasks for the remainder of the day. Collectively, we packed 18,000 meals. Tasks were divided into brown-bagging dry goods such as instant mashed potatoes, dressing, and separating turkeys into separate bags with the intention that each family received one bag of dry goods and one turkey. Once the items were bagged, more volunteers’ cars were loaded up to deliver meals to homes and some families with vouchers to receive meals at that time. My job was to unload turkeys from boxes and place them in their corresponding bags. Because the warehouse area was so open, I could see everyone performing their tasks while I played this small role as part of a much bigger picture. At the end of the event, everyone was all smiles and I was able to leave knowing I contributed to helping over 2,000 households in the Toledo-area celebrate their Thanksgiving with a nice meal.
Overall, the event was an awesome experience to work together with other students from my university, participate in Elks Scholar Service Days, and be a part of something larger than myself to help so many people in my community. In the upcoming weeks, I plan to continue the theme of holiday season volunteering by helping at the Port Clinton, Ohio, Lodge No. 1718, where I’m a member, with the annual Children’s Christmas Party. The Lodge comes together to ensure all children in the community have the opportunity to experience Christmas by providing games, snacks, crafts, and gifts for each child who comes to the event.