ASB students provide Christmas dinner for those finding shelter from the cold
The best Christmases are those spent in the service of others. That is what Associate Student Body members (ASB) on the SJVC Modesto campus believe and had a chance to demonstrate on December 3rd when they provided and served dinner to at least 180 overnight residents at their local Salvation Army.
The 18 SJVC Medical Assisting and Pharmacy Technology students were at the Salvation Army shelter that Thursday night, watching warmth and a little light come back into the faces of those appreciative men and women enduring hardships most others will never know. Most staying for the night are homeless, while others are transitioning to their own residence, as they begin to work again.
Throughout the year ASB members had been conducting fundraisers such as $1.00 cookie-grams, campus food sales and raffle drawings to raise enough money to provide this holiday dinner for so many in need. “Students got together and made the Halloween cards, then met on campus to assemble the cookie-grams,” says Ashvindar Singh, General Education instructor and ASB Advisor. “They were delivered to classrooms at the end of October and raised about $300.”
Groceries were purchased and the ASB members, along with Ashvindar Singh, Alyssa Bahr, Dean of Student Services and Nicole Lewis, Medical Assisting Division Manager, and a few family members provided the food to the Salvation Army.
The dinner was a huge hit with Salvation Army residents. It included fried chicken, corn, rolls, pasta salad and assorted desserts, including pumpkin pie and cake. Some guests asked if they could have seconds, and were welcomed to do so. “The people there got so excited about the desserts,” says Ashvindar. “Dessert is something I feel we take for granted, but it is something not usually included in their meals.”
“Seeing how happy their faces were when they realized we had whipped cream to put on top of the pumpkin pie, was very heartwarming,” says Traci Hagen, ASB President and Pharmacy Tech student.
ASB members prepared enough food for a capacity overnight crowd plus extra for some of those who were in line for a bed, but did not get in. They were grateful that, even though they could not stay, they would leave with some food to help them get through the night.
The homeless population is hardest hit during the brutally cold winter nights when shelters quickly fill to capacity, forcing many to sleep anywhere that might offer some measure of protection from the elements.
“It is so heartwarming to be able to help people, but to see some of them turned away when there is no more room, is heartbreaking,” says Ashvindar. “We took extra food to offer those who could not stay.”
At the end of the evening guests expressed their appreciation for such a bountiful meal and thanked SJVC students and faculty for their generosity. “There were a lot of ‘God bless yous’; and just seeing the joy they got out of the dinner and their happiness, was so heartwarming,” says Ashvindar.
Those special guests were not the only ones benefitting from that night and the effort that went into its provision. “Our students are able to apply what they learn in the classroom, such as their problem-solving skills, organization skills and, most important, their socialization skills,” says Ashvindar. “Students were just really excited to be able to help.”
Traci Hagen’s nine-year old daughter, Haleigh Kuhn, summed it up best: “My favorite part was when all the people we fed applauded for us; that was really cool. I learned that feeding the homeless is a good thing to do.”
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