How many college students does it take to feed 16,000 kids in two hours? About 200!
With the help of Kids Against Hunger and plenty of organizational skills, members of Chapter 20078, Rock Island, Illinois, packaged 16,000 meals for hungry children around the world. Led by Rachel Kammerzelt, chapter leader and a senior at Augustana College, students on the campus rallied together to make a real difference in the lives of others.
This was the second year the students held this event and it’s a favorite volunteer activity campus-wide. “We start planning and soliciting funds to help pay for the meals about six months in advance,” shared Rachel. “Other Royal Neighbors campus chapters are happy to get involved through donations and hands-on assistance. And members of a campus fraternity help us set up and tear down.
Kids Against Hunger is committed to eradicating hunger by distributing nutritious, vitamin-fortified soy-rice casseroles to starving children and their families in 70 countries. Over two billion meals have been packaged and delivered by volunteers.
On a cold winter day on the Midwest campus, those volunteers included more than 200 energetic students who truly believe in the cause. When the food was delivered by Kids Against Hunger, the fun began. Two one-hour shifts were scheduled with 100 students in each. As they put the meals together through a well-oiled assembly line, they talked, told jokes, danced and sang. Each time a box of meals was completed, the students rang a bell and everyone cheered.
“Volunteering is a great way to meet people and stay connected.”
“It’s easy to find volunteers for this event. It’s very popular,” said Rachel. “We promote it through our Community Service newsletter and follow up with quick, to-the-point email reminders. We also accept drop-in volunteers which makes it helpful for our busy students.
Rachel and her fellow chapter members plan activities that resonate with the student population and get everyone motivated to make a difference. As an example, they have participated in a sexual assault awareness candlelight event, a Hurricane Harvey bake sale, a mental health awareness walk, Relay for Life and Toys for Tots. They also have delivered carnations to the residents of St. Anthony’s Care facility and gathered for bell ringing on behalf of the Salvation Army. One of their most successful events is their annual car and dog wash.
What makes a successful event? According to Rachel, communication is key, before, during and after. “Inclusiveness is important, too. Everyone who’s interested should be part of the planning and provide input. They need to feel like they are doing something meaningful,” she said. “And lots of lists and up-to-date spreadsheets help, too!”
Following chapter events, the chapter leadership team and planning committee get together to evaluate the activity and determine what worked and what didn’t. “There is always room for improvement,” noted Rachel. “We not only want the event to be successful for the cause, we also want to engage our volunteers in different roles and challenge them to expand their horizons.
Royal Neighbors opened its first college chapter at Augustana in 2008 and today there are 15 successful chapters giving back to the school and the community on a regular basis. In 2017-2018, the chapters raised nearly $14,000 for local and global charities.
Rachel believes in Royal Neighbors. “I value its mission. Through our chapter events, we learn strong leadership skills. Volunteering is a great way to meet people and stay connected. It reminds us we don’t live in a bubble, it opens us to other organizations and it expands our knowledge of ourselves and those around us. College students are very busy, but if you’re passionate about something, you’ll find the time. And our chapter is passionate about volunteering.
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