By Callie Morrison
Last spring, the Samford community watched as the ongoing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic changed almost every aspect of university activities. One of the many events cancelled due to the pandemic was Samford Gives Back.
Samford Gives Back is a campus-wide, annual day of service organized by Samford University Mann Center for Ethics, the Office of Student Leadership and Freshman Forum.
The focus of this year’s service project was the non-profit organization Rise Against Hunger.
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Rise Against Hunger is a global movement to end hunger by empowering communities, nourishing lives and responding to emergencies.
On Saturday, March 27, four rotations of 100 volunteers gathered to assemble meals to combat food insecurity.
Student Event Director Micaiah Collins shared why he decided to oversee this year’s service day.
“I wanted to find ways that Samford could reach those outside of campus,” Collins said. “Specifically those who may not have access to the same resources we have here.”
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, malnutrition is the single largest contributor to disease in the world. Knowing that receiving proper meals regularly is significant to not only physical health, but emotional and community health, the Samford Gives Back leadership team organized a meal packaging experience, supporting the movement to end hunger by 2030.
“I hope participants will see the magnitude of serving others and are reminded that it does not have to be a big event to do so,” Director of Marketing Emma Jo Robertson said.
When Director of Community Engagement Allison Nanni joined the Mann Center five years ago, Samford Gives Back consisted of 900 volunteers serving at more than 40 locations.
“It is obvious that our service day looked different this year,” Nanni said. “But I believe that in this season of life, people are suffering more than ever. It is part of our responsibility as a Samford family to serve those who are suffering from food insecurity.”
COVID-19 hindered many people from physically serving others, so the opportunity for students to give back is a way to show kindness in moments of crisis.
“It was nice knowing that people were just as excited to serve this year even if the event looked different,” group leader Anna Jones said. “I am glad we could hold an in-person service project, which is more than we could do a year ago.”
The leadership team prepared for this year’s service day since January, working directly with the Mann Center staff and ensuring a positive atmosphere for all volunteers.
“I decided to join the leadership team because I wanted the opportunity to serve the community outside of Samford, and give Samford the ability to reach those in need,” group leader Cooper Shull said.
Many volunteers might not realize what the community outside of Samford is like and what it needs. Nanni expanded on the importance of Samford Gives Back.
“Civic engagement is part of every student and staff responsibility,” Nanni said. “This is the best way to demonstrate our mission at Samford.”