When attending school in one of the wealthier towns in the state, sometimes it’s easy to forget that there are many individuals struggling to put food on the table every day. In order to do their part to aid the less fortunate in the area, students gathered to help feed the hungry on Nov. 4 and 5 when they volunteered with Operation Hope at Stop & Shop.
According to their website, Operation Hope provides help for local families in need through their food pantry, affordable housing, shelters and community kitchen.
According to John Daniels ‘18, who volunteered at the event, Fairfield students who helped out at the event included members of the Accounting Club, Fairfield University Student Association and the Fairfield Investment Group.
Volunteer Manager at Operation Hope Donna Schmidt M’83 explained that both the Undergraduate Accounting Honor Society Beta Alpha Psi and the Masters of Science Accounting Students help Operation Hope.
“Fairfield University is an important part of the town of Fairfield community,” said Schmidt, “and we are very, very honored to have students involved.”
Daniels explained the purpose of the volunteers.
“We all gather to help the 600 families in need. Operation Hope right now has some empty shelves in their food pantry,” said Daniels. “We have all different members here because we want to give back to the community at Fairfield.”
“This August, I lived on campus and commuted to the city,” Daniels continued. “I had a lot of free time on weekends, so I decided to volunteer at Operation Hope, and I realized what a great organization it was. Then in August I worked with the manager of Stop & Shop, Mr. Vece, and we organized this.”
The food drive was initially organized in August because the slot needed to be reserved in advance.
Senior Monica Willson agreed with Daniels that volunteering at the organization is a good cause.
“It helps the people in need in the Fairfield community during an upcoming winter season, which is when people need food and shelter the most,” said Willson, who volunteered on Saturday.
Daniels believed from the start that the drive would be a “big success.” However, he did not foresee that the drive would come at such a crucially important time, when the shelves at the pantry are empty. He hopes to make this food drive twice annually, having one in the spring and another in the fall.
“There’s a big homeless population in Fairfield that we really don’t see,” said Daniels. “They’re marginalized a little bit, but Operation Hope helps people get back on their feet.”
Fairfield University President Mark R. Nemec, Ph.D. went to the food drive to help out and show his support.
“It’s such a great example of our students’ commitment to our core value of being men and women for others and being a part of this community,” said Nemec. “Operation Hope is a really important organization in the social service fabric here, and the commitment of the students to be part of that organization and its work is a testament not just to the students but to the University itself.”
Nemec explained that he believes that it is important for Fairfield students to learn not only in the classroom, but outside of it as well.
“I think it speaks to the fact that [Fairfield] is truly a holistic learning environment where we’re not just learning in the library and not just learning in the classroom, but learning through experiential opportunities such as this one,” said Nemec.