WASHINGTON, PA (Jan. 27, 2012)—Less than a year after receiving an initial grant to establish a student hunger task force, Washington & Jefferson College’s Director of Volunteer Programs Meg Yunn is excited about the impact the group is having in the local community.
“Since last spring, the task force has reached more than a 1,000 people through our events, raised 3,287 food items, fundraised $637.50 and completed more than 350 hours of service,” Yunn said, adding that W&J has surpassed its goals.
In fact, a second grant has been received to fund initiatives through May.
As a recipient of the Youth Serve America Sodexo Lead Organizer grant, W&J’s Hunger Task Force is focused on recruiting volunteers and participating in a variety of service projects and educational sessions addressing hunger. The task force was first introduced to the community in recognition of National Global Youth Service Day April 15-17 of last year, helping to serve meals and spending time with people at the Washington City Mission, the Greater Washington County Food Bank, a local food pantry, and the Interfaith Hospitality Network.
Yunn said other activities since have included volunteering at local food pantries on Global Youth Service Day and during W&J’s Leadership and Service Institute in August. This past November, in recognition of National Hunger and Homeless Week, activities included “Bean Bags to Bag Hunger,” a cornhole competition, and poverty simulations in partnership with Community Action Southwest.
“I have been happy with the amount of money and food that has been collected,” Yunn said. “There are seven members of the task force and we would like to increase membership, but the work we are doing is important.”
Yunn said 25 percent of students have a volunteer profile through her office. She added that students have completed a total of more than 1,784 of community service hours since the beginning of the school year. Last school year, W&J students engaged in 19,000 hours of community service.
According to the United States Census Bureau, 10 percent (approximately 21,882 individuals) of Washington County, Pa., live at or below the poverty line. More than 15 percent of the individuals living in poverty are under the age of 5 and 12.3 percent are between the ages of 6-18.