A day at the Food Bank meant Alejandro Valenzuela, a freshman at the University of Houston-Victoria, could help an organization he relied on in past troubles.
“It helps to give something back,” says Valenzuela, 19. “I was in a situation where I needed it.”
Growing up in Canada, his father lost his job in the oilfield while Valenzuela was in elementary school and high school, he said.
“If you can help, help,” he said. “When you get back on your feet, offer your help too.”
The university’s student life and services recognized National Famine and Homelessness Week by volunteering at the Golden Crescent Food Bank on Wednesday, where more than 30 students sorted and organized groceries and household items.
Other events during the week included creating care packages and volunteering at Christ’s Kitchen.
The Food Bank of the Golden Crescent runs pantries and soup kitchens in communities in a region with 11 counties.
The board provides groceries for JP’s Market, a pantry for university and Victoria College students, said Sara Weinstein, dorm coordinator for Jaguar Suites.
The volunteer project is offered every year, Weinstein said, but she hopes to have sessions year round.
More volunteers and large groups mean extra help during the week, said Mary Lou Trevino, the panel’s volunteer coordinator.
“A lot of tender-hearted people want to donate … We usually get 300 walk-ins that donate food,” said Trevino.
The desire to give during the holidays is increasing, she said. However, as more donations are received, the need for volunteers increases.
“We need this extra help to prepare for November and December – these months need that extra boost of food,” she said. “Christmas is just around the corner and people are worried that there will be no food on the table and no presents under the tree. It is important that we bring out as much food as possible. “
Newbie Alex Alcocer, wearing a blue hairnet and green plastic gloves, dug a white scoop into a container of white rice and poured it into a zippered bag.
Each grain of rice clinked against the metal scales to indicate more weight.
Measuring 1 pound exactly is difficult, said the 19-year-old as he closed the clear plastic bag.
“I want this to go to those who feel they have no hope,” said Alcocer. “Let them know that someone is ready to help them.”