Giving Thanks: William and Mary students combine resources to feed needy families

Contact Reporterwwright@vagazette.com

Students at William and Mary live in a vastly different place than some of their adult counterparts in public housing units throughout Williamsburg.

The college's chapter of Campus Kitchen is one way they get together and give back to those in need. Each Tuesday and Friday throughout the year students organize meals for the needy.

"It's incredible to be in this community and not know we have public housing units around the corner," said Millan Khadka, client relations chair. "You don't just think about that every day."

The college's Campus Kitchen chapter started in 2006. Students like Thomeka Watkins found it suited their interest in human welfare.

In America, she said issues with access to food are especially troublesome because of the country's relative wealth.

"I really have a passion for making sure people have food," Watkins said. "I think America is a country with a lot of resources, but it has a lot of food waste as well."

While the group feeds people around Williamsburg throughout the year, just before Thanksgiving, they have a special event —Turkeypalooza — where they collect canned goods and turkeys with the Black Law Student Association.

An operation that takes several hours results in hundreds of boxes that Campus Kitchen members deliver to low-income families throughout the city.

Last year, they prepared 3,000 meals and delivered them to families in need around Williamsburg. Over 50 volunteers came this year to help sort and deliver food in groups.

"All the residents I've spoken to are so appreciative of what we're doing," Khadka said.

The social dynamics of living in on the college campus shield many students from the poverty felt by some families just blocks away.

"The campus is in such a bubble," said Wendy Guo, public relations chair for the Campus Kitchen. "We don't realize there's a great level of poverty out there. Williamsburg has a higher poverty rate than most people realize."

Collecting hundreds of pounds of food and figuring out just where everything goes is quite a long process, but it's one that helps the students involved feel content with how they help families in need around the community.

"Seeing the difference in what we can do even as college students is really impressive," Watkins said. "I really enjoy that giving an hour of my time can make someone else's life a little easier."

Wright can be reached by phone at 757-345-2343.

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