UMBC Retriever Essentials: Partners in Passion
By Fariha Khalid, CCMA AmeriCorps VISTA Member serving at UMBC Retriever Essentials
On the chilly morning of December 11th, only 12 hours after a call for volunteers had gone out, twenty volunteers showed up in front of the UMBC Event Center ready to move about 3,500 food items to the new food pantry in the Sherman Building. Earlier that same morning, several Retriever Essentials team members met to move the shelves from the old pantry (on the fifth floor of the Fine Arts Building) to the new location so that the new space for the incoming bulk food could be set up. In a matter of an hour, the dedicated team of volunteers and Retriever Essentials team members had moved all of the food. The donated food had been previously collected by the Student Athlete Advisory Committee at a food drive for Retriever Essentials.
It was astounding to witness such passion for service work and community spirit among these people. Many of the volunteers met each other for the first time, but they united and worked together for this cause with minimal instruction. Their presence and participation showed how much each person felt ownership in the project, displayed drive and interest to assist an organization on their campus that feeds hungry students, and expressed a desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
Retriever Essentials Food Pantry is now fully stocked because of the efforts of the members on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, the student athletes, the volunteers, and everyone who has supported the organization. This Campus Compact Mid-Atlantic AmeriCorps VISTA project offers students access to healthy food and other essential supplies free of charge. The CCMA AmeriCorps VISTA project has built the capacity in Retriever Essentials to coordinate a network of departments and organization across the UMBC campus to make events like this possible.
True to its core values, Retriever Essentials is indeed a student-faculty-staff led organization whose sustainability is an asset for all associated with UMBC. The campus community is proudly invested in Retriever Essentials.