“We’re short on cookies.”
“Anyone have more bread for our bologna and cheese?”
More than 50 volunteers line two long tables at Marymount University Monday, Jan. 20 to help A-SPAN make bagged meals for the homeless as part of Martin Luther King (MLK) Day of Service activities.
An assembly line of applesauce, wheat bread, meat and cheese, peanut butter and jelly winds up with bottles of water, pretzels and mini Oreos. U.S. Rep. Don Beyer says he is making robust sandwiches, “the kind I would like to eat, probably too much peanut butter and jelly.” He is impressed with how many people showed up “on a holiday when it’s cold, and they bring their kids. It is fun and it sets a good example.”
A number of Marymount faculty and students are in the group of volunteers, including Susan Agolini, Assistant Professor of Biology, who started a Food for Thought Club at Marymount University to raise awareness about food insecurity. Once a week the students bag 70 lunches for homeless. Agolini says as part of their focus on urban agriculture they grow many vegetables including collards, beets, kale and carrots and deliver their fresh produce to AFAC.
Jonathan Aberman, Dean of the School of Business and Technology says he is here today working to support these efforts. “The service culture cuts across all of the schools. We are rooted here in the community as the only Arlington-based university.”
Bridget Murphy, Professor of Graphic and Media Design at Marymount, has set up a center for student services at the University. “Last year the students alone contributed 14,000 hours of service, and you can add the faculty and administration to that.” She says service empowers students.
Agolini says today’s goal is to pack 200 lunches which is 400 sandwiches but they will just keep going until everything is gone. She adds that this something anyone can do.
This effort to bag meals is sponsored by A-SPAN as one of 20 volunteer opportunities offered by Volunteer Arlington for MLK Day of Service activities. Other opportunities for service or training included Eco-Action, Just Neighbors, Doorways, and AFAC.
MLK Day of Service is celebrated nationally on the third Monday in January as “a day on, not a day off,” to encourage Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.