Growing Compassionate Service: Students Volunteer with Meals on Wheels
As part of their service to the community, 457 Freshmen Symposium students participated in a semester-long service project with Meals on Wheels this fall. During the semester, students decorated and stuffed breakfast bags for senior citizens.
Freshmen student Valeria Molinar said, “It felt good to help people. I would do it again and felt that it was a good lesson learned about giving back to others.”
Sophomore Student Mentor with Freshmen Symposium Lauren Dysarz said her class enjoyed the project, “The students were really engaged. They connected to it and it touched them.”
Ana-Alicia Lopez '10, M.Ed '15, director of Freshmen Symposium, said "We have more than 1,500 bags that we are getting ready to donate, and we are so excited! Our goal is to donate the bags next week, and we will drop them off at Meals on Wheels, whose volunteers will distribute them during their weekly visits. Freshmen students decorated the bags to bring smiles to the faces of seniors who often eat alone and to let them know that people are thinking about and praying for them.
"We have collaborated with Meals on Wheels in the past, and it has always been impactful for the students," Lopez said. "We decided to go all in with Meals on Wheels this year to make a 'big' impact on the community they serve."
In addition to Meals on Wheels, the Freshmen Symposium students volunteered on the first day of class at the Houston Food Bank, the Celt Pantry on-camp, and an on-campus mobile food drive.
Lopez explains, "One of the goals of Freshmen Symposium is to form the minds, hearts and hands of our students. By participating in service, we can do all three! We reflect on Catholic Social Teaching in the classroom and put this into practice by serving the poor and the lonely. Additionally, service allows our entire community (Catholics and non-Catholics) to unite around one goal: love."
Next semester, students participating in the Rising Stars Program will take over this initiative for the spring.
"It is nice to know that this one-semester project will continue in the spring under the auspices of the Risings Stars Internship Program and Director Dan Garcia' 01, MBA '09," Lopez said.
Dan Garcia believes it is important that UST continue to serve its community year round. “The Rising Stars students are all benefactors of donations from the community and corporate sponsorships. It is important that they learn the value of paying it forward and helping others in need,” he said.
“Freshmen Symposium is only a fall class, so it's seems fitting to me to have our Rising Stars students give back to the community in the spring and keep the generosity going,” he said. “this will be the first service project that Rising Stars will participate in. The project will be open to all 180 Rising Stars students.
“We are open to all and any service projects that come our way,” Garcia said. “We are currently very active with the food distributions on campus and would love to be able to help support any service project being hosted by any organization on campus.”