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USF student organizations lend helping hand during holidays

During Hunger Awareness Week last week, numerous student organizations helped organize food and clothes collection drives and service projects to help alleviate the burdens on numerous impoverished families during the upcoming holidays.

Although no projects are scheduled to take place this week for Thanksgiving Day because most students are out of town, Volunteer USF coordinator Amy Simon insists it is not too late for those staying to get involved.

“We will still take food donations down here if students want to help out and they don’t have time to drive them to local charities,” Simon said.

Donations, such as canned food items, should be brought to Volunteer USF’s headquarters in the basement of the Phyllis P. Marshall Center. Students who want to help more should also contact one of the several agencies that are partners with Volunteer USF, such as Metropolitan Ministries.

Right now there are 17 students on the leadership board at Volunteer USF. The main event they coordinated last week was the Hunger Awareness Banquet, which was organized in conjunction with other student organizations.

Junior Jessalyn Diaz, a USF volunteer who helped put together the banquet, has been volunteering since fifth grade. She said the banquet was a huge success, with more than 200 people in attendance. Diaz said she has a deep appreciation for volunteer work, since it ultimately has paid for all of her college expenses.

“I like to volunteer and inspire others to do the same,” Diaz said.

Diaz is a recipient of the Kosov scholarship, given only to students with high academic achievement and extensive experience in volunteer work. She said her father didn’t realize how important volunteer work was until she received the scholarship that pays for her housing, tuition and books. Now, he is pushing for Diaz’s younger sister to volunteer.

Diaz is going to the Salvation Army on Thursday to serve food and offer her help with anything else.

“It brings you down to Earth and helps you appreciate what you have,” Diaz said about volunteering.

Students interested in giving their time this holiday season should contact Volunteer USF to get involved with the several services and projects provided. According to Volunteer USF, an estimated 30,000 people die each day of hunger. Diaz said philanthropic work makes her thankful every day for her good fortune.

“You don’t realize how lucky you are until you meet someone less fortunate than you,” she said.