Student-Powered Hunger Relief

From volunteering to vocation

, April 19th, 2013

a guest post by Neil J. Costello

Did you know that 45% of the students that participate and volunteer with a Campus Kitchen change their career path based on that experience?

In the spring of 2007, I volunteered at the Campus Kitchen at Gonzaga College High School. Like many high school students, I had to complete a certain number of community service hours in order to graduate. While my motives for originally volunteering with the CKP may have been self-centered, what I learned and experienced outside of the kitchen really opened my eyes to a social issue that affects 1 in 6 Americans. Where is their next meal coming from?

During my time with the Campus Kitchen at Gonzaga College High School, I was proud to know that sometimes someone’s next meal was coming from me. During one of my meal deliveries, I knocked on a door and received no answer. Compelled to deliver that meal, I knocked one more time and put my ear to the door in case someone said something. A voice softly asked me to open the door. When I did, I saw an older, heavyset gentleman on oxygen sitting in a wheelchair. I greeted him and told him that I was there to deliver his meal from the Campus Kitchen. Then, the wildest thing happened. While we were talking, he asked if I would like some food. Not really thinking, I instinctively declined in a polite manner; but the gentleman then picked up the meal I had just given him, and told me he would be more than happy to share some of the food with me. I was awestruck. I didn’t need to share that meal, and I am sure he knew that, but he wanted to show his gratitude and appreciation by making this gesture. In that moment, I realized that nothing would ever mean more to me than helping those in need.

Now, six years after my experience as a Campus Kitchen volunteer, I am pursuing a graduate degree in Nonprofit Management and Leadership at the University of Maryland. I know that my experiences with The Campus Kitchens Project steered me towards pursuing a career in philanthropy and nonprofit management. Those experiences ultimately helped me understand what I want to do with the rest of my life, which is simply to have a positive impact in the lives of others. Thank you CKP!

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