By Amanda Hoffman
On Saturday, April 13th, volunteers of all ages came out to the First Baptist Church and Christian Education Center in Pompano Beach to participate in HandsOn Broward’s contribution to the “What Will You Bring to the Table?” project.
What Will You Bring to the Table? is an initiative through generationOn to mobilize youth to address child hunger in the U.S. by gathering around tables to create service projects that raise awareness and bring collective action to this critical issue. The project’s goal is to reach out to individuals and volunteer organizations across the United States to raise one million meals in six weeks. It’s a lofty goal, but if the work done on Saturday is any indication of what’s happening across America, raising one million meals seems very possible.
On Saturday, volunteers were given the option to participate in several projects around the Church. Near the preschool, some volunteers planted a community garden, which featured plants such as celery, kale and arugula. The garden will give the preschoolers a chance to learn about gardening and harvesting, as well as have access to healthy snacks.
At the Church’s onsite food pantry, other volunteers helped plant shrubs and bushes to enhance the courtyard where 100+ adults and children experiencing homelessness receive a meal every Saturday. Jared Goodman, 15, who came out as part of the Youth Leadership Academy—a HandsOn Broward program that gives teenagers a chance to lean about leadership and volunteering—took a break from digging holes. “We’re planting some cocoplum bushes around the fence. We chose these because they give a lot of privacy and they produce an edible fruit.”
After working with the Youth Leadership Academy, Jared chooses to volunteer because,
“there are less fortunate families out there, and there are people who don’t have the luxuries we have and it just feels good to give back once in a while.”
Lourdes Lopez, 14, found that her favorite part of the day was gardening. “I don’t really get to do it much and I really like it,” she said, leaning on her rake.
Inside, more volunteers packed and decorated food boxes which will go into the church’s food pantry. Without looking up from the meal box he was coloring, Graham Guay, 10, said that his favorite part of the day was, “everything!” Over 300 food boxes were packed and left at the onsite Food Pantry.
Other volunteers decided to build a picnic table for the preschool. The significance of the picnic table is that it symbolizes the message of “What Will You Bring to the Table?” and serves to represent the goal of combating child hunger.
Pausing between hisses of duct tape as she packed her food box, Abbey Tomaszewski, 15, said, “Volunteering is important because I get to make a difference.”
So far, the “What Will You Bring to the Table?” project has raised 334,861 meals. Volunteers can submit photos of their own projects to combat hunger online at whatwillyoubringtothetable.org.