University kicks off National Volunteer Week with Food Packaging Project


Missael Pale, freshman in Media, participates in the campus-wide day of service by helping pack bags of rice that can be turned into a casserole. The event was held at Memorial Stadium on Sunday, April 5, 2014.

By Meghan Webber

Volunteers gathered at Memorial Stadium on Saturday to participate in the second annual Community and Campus Day of Service.

This year, Illini Fighting Hunger organized the Food Packaging Project as its primary event to help kick off National Volunteer Week, which takes place from April 6 to April 12 throughout the country.

As facilitators of the event, Illini Fighting Hunger provided leadership and the necessary equipment used to package meals. Although the Food Packaging Project is a daylong event, preparation began six to eight months in advance to set up the registration and donation processes.

“The Day of Service is meant to bring together students and faculty and staff from the University with members of the community in order to benefit the larger community that we’re a part of,” said Max Colon, president of Illini Fighting Hunger and sophomore in LAS. “Through the Food Packaging event, we’re going to be packaging 147,000 meals to benefit those who are food insecure in the Eastern Illinois Foodbank (coverage area).”

The event attracted an estimated 1,400 volunteers, and according to Lun Ou, an Illini Fighting Hunger awareness coordinator, the organization had to turn down at least 200 hopeful volunteers because of an outpouring of responses to the project.

“All the volunteers at the event work together as though they know each other, as though they are family,” said Ou, a junior in ACES. “This event is a great bonding experience and truly brings people together.”

Volunteers of all ages were present, demonstrating that the event incorporates the community as a whole.

“I really wanted to get my children involved in some kind of service project, and this was something I thought they could participate in,” said Cati Robinson, a volunteer from Monticello, Ill. “My main goal was to help my kids see that there are families out there who don’t have food readily available like they do.” 

In Colon’s opinion, one of the best parts of the Food Packaging Project is seeing the event, along with all the other events taking place during National Volunteer Week, come together for one purpose.

“It’s amazing to see so many people wanting to get involved to help others,” Colon said.

Meghan can be reached at [email protected]

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that there were 14,000 volunteers. There were 1,400 volunteers. The Daily Illini regrets the error.