Castleton University students joined Castleton Cares Inc. and the Castleton Police Department to hand out boxes of Thanksgiving goods to needy families early Saturday morning.
Media and Communication professor Dave Blow, along with three of his Media Ethics students, this reporter included, loaded boxes into vehicles and directed families to the pick-up point as they arrived at the Federated Church on Main Street.
The effort was the culmination of a weeks-long fund-raising effort that generated about $1,700 for the non-profit organization.
Students Marty Kelly III and Jacob McCarthy said they were happy to spend the first hours of their morning making a difference.
McCarthy, from Massachusetts, made time on his way out of town to help and said during this pandemic time especially, more people are in need.
“What better time to give than the holidays,” McCarthy said.
Kelly drove up from Bennington to help.
“It’s important to help people, it puts things into perspective. This is a simple, effective way to make a difference,” he said.
Director of the Castleton Cares Lyn Petty loves to see involvement from students and said Castleton Cares often helps international students at the college over holiday breaks.
“It gives me great joy to see young people getting involved in their community. You guys made a big difference for us,” Petty said.
In addition to supporting students in need, Castleton Cares helps all members of the community and devises specific programs for each age group’s needs.
“One in four children in Vermont are hungry so we give out 420 boxes a month. Seniors can’t come to us during the pandemic, so we bring food to Castleton Meadows every two weeks to allow them to ‘shop’” Petty said.
The boxes supplied to the families contain enough food to last the month and carrying them over to the next.
Despite the variety of services available through Castleton Cares, Petty says they run solely on donations and receive no federal or Vermont Foodbank support. She said they are always accepting donations.
The money raised by students, Petty said, will be used to held re-stock the depleted food pantry and fund Christmas boxes next month.
Blow, who lives in Queensbury, New York, said he got permission from a state Department of Health official to drive over and help.
This was the sixth year Blow’s class raised money for needy area residents, most recently hosting Christmas parties at Vermont Achievement Center in Rutland for needy kids and their families identified by VAC staff.
“I look forward to this effort every year to try to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate, and to instill that feeling of doing something good for the community in my students,” Blow said. “They are representing Castleton University very well.”