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Belmont Employees Take Bruin Pride to the Community

Nearly 150 employees volunteer at Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee for University-wide service day

In celebration of Belmont’s charge to be “Nashville’s University,” faculty and staff members left campus on Friday, April 8 and found themselves sorting donated food, packing backpacks with meals and weighing meat in Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee’s industrial-sized freezer. The annual service project, which the University dubbed “It’s Bruin Time in the Community,” began two years ago with employees spending a morning painting at Hunters Lane High School. Last year’s project was also at Second Harvest.

This year, with Vision 2020 ideals in mind, Belmont employees registered to serve during one of two three-hour shifts, aligning Belmont’s vision and resources with the “ever-changing needs of the people in our community.” Divided into three teams upon arrival at Second Harvest’s Martin Distribution Center, one group was tasked with sorting pallets of food into specific boxes–pasta, rice, snacks and vegetables, among others. These boxes, once weighed, were marked and prepared for shipment to any one of Second Harvest’s many community partners.

The next group, decked out in their winter warmest, headed for the organization’s freezer to weigh and pack donated meat. No stranger to the freezer’s sub-zero temperatures, Belmont’s Residence Life Department spent last year’s event volunteering in the freezer and the participants said the team had been looking forward to bundling up for the third annual service day, again.

Knowing that some people shy away from volunteer opportunities that could be seen as inconvenient, Residence Director Kim Kolk said she and her team were more than happy to step in. “Volunteering at Second Harvest allowed us to work as a group and make a tangible, lasting impact on the community. Working in the freezer with my colleagues and friends reminded me of the value of teamwork and just how much we can accomplish when we work together,” Kolk said. “I am so glad I work for an institution that values service and allows us to fellowship together while impacting the world around us.”

community day-122-X2The final group, and the quickest to volunteer when the groups were divided, took on Second Harvest’s “Backpack Program,” a program that provides food for at-risk children on weekends and during school breaks when other resources are not available. This team stocked more than 2,300 backpacks with canned entrees, applesauce, cereal, fruit juice, milk and a snack, contributing to the more than 5,000 hungry children fed by the program each week.

Planned and executed by Belmont’s University Staff Advisory Council (USAC), the annual event has become a staple on Belmont’s campus during the spring semester as faculty and staff are given an opportunity to celebrate a successful year through service to the community. USAC Chair Katie Ashley said, “This event is a great opportunity for Belmont employees to give back to the community while strengthening relationships among the Belmont team. It’s a win-win!”

In total, Belmont’s “It’s Bruin Time in the Community” morning and afternoon groups boxed more than 12,000 lbs of food, 2,300 backpacks and 7,000 lbs of meat for packing and delivery. For more photos from the event, click here.