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The Aquilian

The Aquilian

    Students continue to find service opportunities with the Gonzaga Kitchen Project

    Ms. Patty Tobin and a group of students prepare meals at the McKenna Center. (Gonzagakitchenproject Instagram)

    In a normal year, students could be seen walking through the halls with a cart, cutting fruit, packing food and recruiting other students to serve at the McKenna Center. This year, even during the pandemic, there is no shortage of students who are eager to serve and give back to the community that surrounds Gonzaga.

    “I have been so impressed by Gonzaga students during the pandemic as they are still raising their hand and wanting to serve. This is an easy year to say no, and I’ve been so impressed this year by how many students come to serve. I have to turn guys down a lot of the time because we have so many volunteers,” said Ms. Danielle Flood, assistant director of campus ministry and coordinator of the Gonzaga Kitchen Project.

    Students have not had the opportunity to do much service in person because of the pandemic. Although campus ministry and the peace club have been offering various different service opportunities through ZOOM, such as the Faith in Action series, students are looking for something more to do.

    We knew that people needed [the McKenna Center]. So we couldn’t let that stop,” Ms. Flood said.

    With Ms. Patty Tobin retiring, campus ministry decided to take over Campus Kitchen, now known as the Gonzaga Kitchen Project. Due to the fact that students were not able to deliver food, Campus Ministry had to get creative. They asked parents, alumni and ASC members to volunteer some of their time to deliver food. By the end of last year, ASC members and many alumni took over the task of delivering meals regularly to people in need. Campus ministry’s goal for this year was to have students take over and start delivering food again.

    Up until last week, students were not able to deliver food to buildings, as the Washington, D.C. Department of Health had strict regulations in place.

    “Twice a week, we package the meals, and then alumni, parents and ASC deliver the food,” Ms. Flood said.

    Obviously, the Gonzaga Kitchen Project looks a little different, but things are starting to look good. Soon, seniors will have the opportunity to deliver meals to people in need and will also be able to pack food alongside the underclassmen. Many of the freshmen have stepped up to the plate, packaging food twice a week and building a community amongst each other.

    “It was nice to work on packing meals with other freshmen as it allowed me to talk to them and get to know them better while still doing something good and productive,” said Drew LeNard, freshman.

    It’s a special opportunity that not everyone has the chance to participate in during high school.

    I think it’s been one of the coolest service opportunities this year because we know that other things can’t happen. We can’t get in a van and go play chess at the Washington Jesuit Academy. It’s really the only opportunity right now for freshmen to meet each other and do service. It has been a cool opportunity for both freshmen and seniors to contribute,” Ms. Flood said. 

    Although most students may not have face-to-face contact with clients, students can still do a lot to help the community. Going to campus ministry and asking to do service is the first step. 

    “We know how important it is to get that experience to meet someone face to face, that’s where the real service happens. I think that’s what we’ve really been missing in our service, and our hope is campus kitchen will give guys a taste of that a little bit,” Ms. Flood said.

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