William & Mary students feel a real commitment to their community, volunteering well over 300,000 hours last year. I knew that I wanted to join a service group but waited until I found one that really got me excited. I was eating lunch at the Sadler Center and I saw fliers on the tables for “Campus Kitchens: A new service group starting up next year!” A national organization with its headquarters in Washington, D.C., this group was founded with the belief that we can use existing resources, namely surplus food, to meet hunger and nutritional needs in our community. We would take extra food from wherever we could get it (food banks, restaurants, dining halls, etc) and use the facilities in our cafeterias (large convection ovens, freezer and refrigerator space) to make free meals for those who need it most.
I applied for a leadership position and was named Client Coordinator. Basically this meant that I was responsible for going to our delivery sites, low-income housing locations in Williamsburg that are very well hidden since we are a tourist town, and signing up residents to receive free meals. At first it was incredibly difficult – I wanted residents to see that we genuinely wanted to help them and get to know them. Since our founding last year, the number of meals we deliver has double to over 120 a week! We have also become so involved with the community that we have set up mentors, weekly activity fairs for the children and I was even invited to chaperone a field trip to D.C.!
I can’t imagine my college life without Campus Kitchens. When the group began it took an incredible amount of time organizing, volunteering and speaking with residents, but now that our training wheels are off, I am so proud of how far we’ve come. We are the only Campus Kitchens chapter that is completely student-run (other ones have faculty or staff members on their leadership committees). We are now at a point that we have too many volunteers who want to come on our delivery and cooking shifts and we need to keep adding new activities! It is a wonderful organization and I hope that every William & Mary student can find a service group they are this passionate about!
Our leadership team:
And here I am with my favorite resident Mrs. Lemon at our Spring Carnival (the wig was her idea, she got it at the Dollar Tree):
– Mary Bonney ’10