Samantha Stirmel/Staff Reporter
The Volunteer Network student organization on the Embry-Riddle campus continued their long history of getting the school together and donating Thanksgiving Baskets for families in need that cannot afford their own Thanksgiving meals.
Sean Murphy is the advisor for the Volunteer Network and talked about the organization’s progress in their outreach to the community and the students behind this Thanksgiving initiative. Last year, the initiative brought together a total of 19 baskets, whereas this year they donated over 26 baskets to families.
This is the second year that the Volunteer Network has been run by Sean, and he sees big potential for the future with student leaders like Stephanie Bermudez. Sean has been pushing more and more for students to be running most of the club and getting out there and networking with these volunteer organizations.
The entirety of a basket is meant to feed a family of 5 and includes many typical Thanksgiving staples like a pumpkin pie, stuffing, corn, as well as a gift card for the family to purchase a turkey for their meal. Understanding that one student cannot always provide all the supplies for one basket was a key part of the club focusing on trying to get organizations and departments to go in on some baskets.
The Student Government Association donated about five baskets, the Office of the Registrar donated three themselves, and many other organizations on campus put a basket or two together as well.
The Basket Brigade initiative in the county pledged over 950 baskets from all of the different organizations that they reached out to. When Brenna Freeman, Director of External Operations for the SGA, dropped off baskets Saturday morning, she heard talk of over 2,000 baskets being donated with more to come.
Sean hopes that next year they can double their total and get more organizations on campus involved with this community outreach project for families in need.
This year, the point of contact for the project is Stephanie Bermudez, a junior on campus with a furious passion and history of volunteer work. Bermudez started volunteering when she was a child at her church with her family, helping everyone around her runs in her blood.
About 75 volunteer hours were required in her high school to graduate; however, she estimates her total hours were about 500. This led to her involvement in the Volunteer Initiative on campus when she started coming to Embry-Riddle. Bermudez loves this project and has tabled for it in the Student Center almost every day because it means a lot to her to give families a meal which so many others may take for granted.
Her full force attitude for every project the Network runs has given her the opportunity to be a manager of the club next semester, and she gladly takes the challenge. The Thanksgiving initiative is just one project out of the year, and part of the clubs push to have at least one service project every semester.
While pushing for the Thanksgiving project Bermudez has also been pushing for is the Angel Tree project that is going on until Dec. 8, where students can choose children off the tree in the Student Center and buy them toys for Christmas.
She especially likes this project as well because the children that students can pick off the tree have parents who are in jail and cannot afford Christmas presents.
Buying needy children presents or donating Thanksgiving baskets is one way to get involved in the community around campus and helping the world around Embry-Riddle, but another way is volunteering time. Another way to get involved is by emailing Sean at email@example.com.